Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Numbers 11:21

But Moses said, "The people, among whom I am, are 600,000 on foot; yet You have said, ‘I will give them meat, so that they may eat for a whole month.'
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Doubting;   Inspiration;   Moses;   Prayer;   Trouble;   Unbelief;   Thompson Chain Reference - Distrust;   Faith-Unbelief;   Scepticism;   Unbelief;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Armies of Israel, the;   Desert, Journey of Israel through the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Manna;   Sanhedrin;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Appoint;   Holy Spirit;   Moses;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Discontent;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Prophet;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Census;   Philip the Apostle;   Prophet;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Eldad;   Meat;   Tabernacle;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Moses;   Numbers, Book of;   Tabernacle;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Footman;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Elder;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - On to Canaan;   Moses, the Man of God;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Army;   Egypt;   Eldad;   Moses;   Number;   Sanhedrin;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Exodus;   Sanhedrin;   Scroll of the Law;   Sidra;  

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Moses said,.... By way of objection to what God had promised, distrusting his power to perform:

the people amongst whom I am; among whom he dwelt, of whom he was a part, and over whom he was a ruler:

are six hundred thousand footmen; that were able to travel on foot, and were fit for war: this was the number of them when they came out of Egypt, Exodus 12:37; they amounted in their last numbering to 3,550 more, which lesser number is here omitted, as Aben Ezra and Jarchi observe, and only the round number given: some say that all above the six hundred thousand were destroyed by the fire at Taberah, Numbers 11:1,

and thou hast said, one will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month; this Moses could not tell how to credit.

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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 11:21". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/numbers-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And Moses said, The people, o 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.

(o) Of whom I have charge.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Numbers 11:21". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/numbers-11.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Six hundred thousand footmen — Fit for war, besides women and children. That Moses speaks this as distrusting God's word is evident; and that Moses was not remarkably punished for this as he was afterward for the same sin, Numbers 20:12, may be imputed to the different circumstances of this and that sin: this was the first offence of the kind, and therefore more easily passed by; that was after warning and against more light and experience. This seems to have been spoken secretly: that openly before the people; and therefore it was fit to be openly and severely punished to prevent the contagion of that example.

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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 11:21". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/numbers-11.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Numbers 11:21 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.

Ver. 21. Six hundred thousand footmen.] In the conquest of Canaan, there is no mention of horsemen. The adversaries, both Egyptians and Canaanites, had horses and chariots; not so this people of Israel. See Psalms 33:17.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:21". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/numbers-11.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Numbers 11:21. And Moses said, The people amongst whom I am There is a striking similarity between the present passage and the account we have in the Evangelists of our Saviour's feeding the multitude with the five loaves and two fishes. See particularly John 6:5; John 6:71.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Numbers 11:21". 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

Six hundred thousand footmen, fit for war, Exodus 12:37, besides women, children, &c. That Moses speaks this as doubting or distrusting God’s words is evident enough from Numbers 11:22,23. And that Moses was not remarkably punished for this as he was afterward for the same sin, Num 20 next to God’s good pleasure may be imputed to the different circumstances of this and that sin: this was the first great offence of this kind, and therefore more easily passed by; that was after warning, and against more light and experience. This seems to have been spoken secretly in Moses’s breast; that openly and publicly before the people, and to their scandal, and therefore it was fit to be openly and severely punished to prevent the contagion of that example.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 11:21". 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

21.Six hundred thousand footmen — This, in round numbers, is the census of men fit for military service. See Numbers 1:21-46, notes. Hence the entire population must have exceeded two millions. “In view of the demands of such an immense host the faith of Moses seems to have wavered. Either from the discomposure of his spirit by reason of the affronts of the people, or from a fear that they might be commanded to feed upon the cattle required for sacrifice, or from sheer incredulity, he is prompted to enquire how it can be possible that so many mouths should be fed with flesh for a whole month together.” — Bush. Reason looks at natural causes alone. Faith brings God into the scene, and therefore knows absolutely nothing of difficulties; yea, she laughs at impossibilities.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 11:21". "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 11:21. Six hundred thousand footmen — Fit for war, besides women and children. That Moses speaks this as distrusting God’s word, is evident; and that Moses was not remarkably punished for this as he was afterward for the same sin, (Numbers 20.,) may be imputed to the different circumstances of this and that sin; this was the first offence of the kind, and therefore more easily passed by; that was after warning, and against more light and experience. This seems to have been spoken secretly; that openly, before the people; and therefore it was fit to be openly and severely punished, to prevent the contagion of that example.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 11:21". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/numbers-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

People, able to bear arms. (Haydock) --- In all there were above two millions. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Numbers 11:21". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/numbers-11.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

them. Some codices have a reading called Sever (App-34), which reads "unto you".

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Numbers 11:21". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/numbers-11.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(21) Six hundred thousand footmen.—In Numbers 1:46 the number is stated to be 603,550; but here, as elsewhere, a round number is mentioned.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:21". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/numbers-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
1:46; 2:32; Genesis 12:2; Exodus 12:37; 38:26
Reciprocal: Numbers 20:12 - Because ye believed;  2 Kings 7:2 - if the Lord;  Psalm 78:20 - can he give;  Matthew 14:17 - GeneralMatthew 15:33 - Whence;  Mark 6:37 - Shall;  Mark 8:4 - From;  Mark 10:27 - With men;  Luke 1:18 - for;  Luke 9:13 - have;  John 6:7 - Two

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Numbers 11:21". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/numbers-11.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

21.And Moses said, The people among whom I am, are six hundred thousand. Although Moses’ object was right, yet he fell into unbelief, and thus stumbled at the very threshold. His pious solicitude indeed impelled him to doubt; because he feared that God’s holy name would be exposed to derision and contumely, if he should send away empty those to whom he had promised food. But it seemed to him incredible that so mighty a multitude should be sufficiently supplied with flesh. When he calls them “six hundred thousand,” he either does not calculate their numbers exactly, or indicates that some had died since their departure, when he had numbered the people. (Exodus 14:0.) Yet it is probable that he referred to the recent census, in which they were found to be 603,550, (Numbers 1:46;) but for the sake of brevity he put the sum in the gross, as he does elsewhere, omitting the 3550. (Exodus 12:37.) By speaking of foot-men, he means the men, and thus excepts the women and. children. Assuredly such a multitude might astonish him, or, at any rate, might inspire him with alarm, so that he should mistrust the promise. His doubt, however, was wrong in two respects; first, because he did not simply trust, as if he were not assured that God was true in all His words; and, secondly, because he improperly allowed his mind to measure God’s inestimable power by his own senses. Let us learn, therefore, that, as soon as God has spoken, we should embrace, without discussion, whatever has proceeded out of His mouth; and so likewise let us learn to humble ourselves, and our own minds, and at the same time to rise by faith above the world, and our natural reason; so that no absurdity, which the flesh may suggest to us, should prevent us from certainly concluding that whatever God has promised He will, by His might, perform. For it is a most incorrect calculation to bind down God’s doings to ordinary standards; as if His power were not more extensive than our minds can reach. We must, therefore, carefully take notice of the rebuke, whereby God so corrected Moses at once, that it ought to prevent and to cure all diseases of distrust in us. For the immensity of God’s hand convicts the folly of those who would subject it to their own imaginations and rules. For, even although God should not stretch forth His hand, He holds heaven and earth in its “hollow,” as it is said in Isaiah 40:12. What madness, then, is it to seek to grasp by our own senses, and, as it were, to imprison that hand which is greater than a hundred worlds! As soon, therefore, as distrust on the score of difficulties begins to take possession of our minds, let this conclusion be remembered, that the promises of God do not exceed the measure of His power to accomplish effectually whatever He has declared. This question, however, “Is the Lord’s hand waxed short?” may be explained in two ways: for the old interpreter (29) has rendered it, “Is God’s hand weak?” But God seems to adduce the proof, whereby He had borne witness to His power, not only in the creation of heaven and earth, but also in so many recent miracles; as if to rebuke the ingratitude of Moses, who had profited so little by these most striking lessons: for Isaiah uses the same word in this sense, where he says: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened.” (Isaiah 59:1.) Moses is unquestionably exalting the blessings received on former occasions, wherein the people had experienced the saving power of God. I have retained the future tense of the verb, (30) since it does not injure the sense. What is said amounts to this, Will God’s hand be weaker than usual, so as not to put forth its power already known?

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:21". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/numbers-11.html. 1840-57.