Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Numbers 11:25

Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do it again.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Anthropomorphisms;   Cloud;   Government;   Inspiration;   Intolerance, Religious;   Jury;   Moses;   Prayer;   Prophets;   Seventy;   Trouble;   Scofield Reference Index - Holy Spirit;   Power;   Thompson Chain Reference - Cloud;   Holy Spirit;   Inspiration;   Power;   Prophesying;   Prophets;   Spirit;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Cloud of Glory;   Courts of Justice;   Desert, Journey of Israel through the;   Inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Eldad;   Manna;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Holy spirit;   Ruler;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Appoint;   Cloud, Cloud of the Lord;   Fulfillment;   Haggai, Theology of;   Holy Spirit;   Moses;   Prophet, Prophetess, Prophecy;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Discontent;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Cloud;   Eldad;   Medad;   Prophet;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Eldad;   Joshua;   Prophet;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Cloud, Pillar of;   Eldad;   Meat;   Number Systems and Number Symbolism;   Ordination, Ordain;   Tabernacle;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Holy Spirit;   Moses;   Numbers, Book of;   Prophecy, Prophets;   Tabernacle;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Cloud ;   Elder (2);   Publishing ;   Seventy (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Cloud;   Elders;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Eldad;   Elder;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Law of Moses;   Mo'ses;   Tabernacle;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Cloud;   Eldad;   Elders;   Judges;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - On to Canaan;   Moses, the Man of God;   Samuel the Prophet;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Eldad;   Holy Spirit;   Omnipresence;   Prophecy;   Rest;   Spirit;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Bet Din;   Food;   Inspiration;   Sanhedrin;   Shekinah;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

When the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied - By prophesying here we are to understand their performing those civil and sacred functions for which they were qualified; exhorting the people to quiet and peaceable submission, to trust and confidence in the goodness and providence of God, would make no small part of the duties of their new office. The ideal meaning of the word נבא naba is to pray, entreat, etc. The prophet is called נביא nabi, because he prays, supplicates, in reference to God; exhorts, entreats, in reference to man. See on Genesis 20:7; (note).

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/numbers-11.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the Lord came down in a cloud,.... In a cloud of glory, or a glorious one, as the Targums; either in the same that went before the people in the wilderness, or in one distinct from it, and only used on this occasion, as a visible token of the presence of God:

and spake unto him; to Moses, talked with him, as he said he would, Numbers 11:17,

and took of the Spirit which was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders; See Gill on Numbers 11:17,

and it came to pass that when the Spirit rested upon them they prophesied; either they sung the praises of God, which is sometimes the sense of prophesying, 1 Chronicles 25:1; blessing God for the honour done them, and the gift bestowed on them; or they opened and explained the laws of God, in virtue of the gifts they had received, according to which they were to assist Moses in the government of the people, or they foretold things come: the Jews say they prophesied of the quails, but that is not very likely:

and did not cease; from prophesying; the spirit of prophecy continued with them, which, in some cases, might be necessary: or, they ceased not to prophesy all that day, though they afterwards did: and in the Hebrew text it is, "they added not"F17יספו "et non addiderunt", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius; "et non am lin", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. , that is, to prophesy, and Jarchi says they only prophesied that day, as it is interpreted in an ancient book of theirs, called Siphre: wherefore this spirit of prophecy is thought only to be given them as a temporary thing, for the confirmation of their having received the spirit of government, or gifts qualifying them for that, and to make them respectable among the people, and to show that they were appointed it by divine authority, and that this was not a device of Moses to ease himself.

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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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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/numbers-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that [was] upon him, and gave [it] unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, [that], when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not p cease.

(p) From that day the spirit of prophecy did not settle them.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/numbers-11.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease — As those elders were constituted civil governors, their “prophesying” must be understood as meaning the performance of their civil and sacred duties by the help of those extraordinary endowments they had received; and by their not “ceasing” we understand, either that they continued to exercise their gifts uninterruptedly the first day (see 1 Samuel 19:24), or that these were permanent gifts, which qualified them in an eminent degree for discharging the duty of public magistrates.

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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 11:25". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/numbers-11.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.

Rested on them — Not only moved them for a time, but took up his settled abode with them, because the use and end of this gift was perpetual.

They prophesied — Discoursed of the word and works of God in a marvellous manner, as the prophets did. So this word is used, 1 Samuel 10:5,6; Joel 2; 28; 1 Corinthians 14:3. Yet were they not hereby constituted teachers, but civil magistrates, who together with the spirit of government, received also the spirit of prophesy, as a sign and seal both to themselves and to the people, that God had called them to that employment.

They did not cease — Either for that day, they continued in that exercise all that day, and, it may be, all the night too, as it is said of Saul, 1 Samuel 19:24, or, afterwards also, to note that this was a continued gift conferred upon them to enable them the better to discharge their magistracy; which was more expedient for them than for the rulers of other people, because the Jews were under a theocracy or the government of God, and even their civil controversies were decided out of that word of God which the prophets expounded.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/numbers-11.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

spirit that was upon him

There was no more power than before--only more machinery. Moses had murmured (Numbers 5:11) because of the burden that God had laid upon him. God, in distributing the burden, shows that Moses' power had, all along, been in proportion to his burden.

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Numbers 11:25". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/numbers-11.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Numbers 11:25 And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that [was] upon him, and gave [it] unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, [that], when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.

Ver. 25. Took of the spirit.] {See Trapp on "Numbers 11:17"}

They prophesied.] Nec praedicendo, nec praedicando; but by uttering grave and wise sentences, apothegms, or counsels, as Moses did, concerning the public affairs of Israel; by political and prudential speaking of things appertaining to government.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/numbers-11.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Numbers 11:25. When the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied Concerning the meaning of the word prophet, we have spoken in the note on Genesis 20:7. To prophesy, says Dr. Hammond, is a large word; and, besides the foretelling of future events, which is the ordinary notion of it, it signifies, SECONDLY, To work miracles; as when it is said of Elisha's body, that, being dead, it prophesied. Compare Ecclesiassicus, Ecclesiassicus 48: 13 with 2 Kings 13:21. THIRDLY, To declare the will of God to any, by revelation or mission from him: and grammarians have observed, that the word naturally signifies no more than this, of speaking from, or in the stead of another, i.e. of God; in which sense, as Christ's prophetic office consisted in revealing the will of God to the world, so all, who have in any degree done the like, are styled prophets; all who have taught men their duties towards God and each other. Thus, when, Exodus 7:1. God said to Moses, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet; the meaning is, that what God commanded, or should command Moses, Moses should (as God to a prophet, — the oracle to the υποφητης) deliver to Aaron concerning Pharaoh; and Aaron should go as a prophet sent from God, and deliver it to Pharaoh: he shall be thy spokesman; he shall be to thee instead of a mouth. Exodus 4:16. FOURTHLY, It signifies to expound or interpret Scripture; as in 1 Corinthians 14:1; 1 Corinthians 14:40. FIFTHLY, It is sometimes used to signify wild, raving, mad behaviour, or such speaking as the ενθεοι, or enthusiasts among the heathen, men possessed of diabolic feelings, were wont to use: so, when the evil spirit came upon Saul, he prophesied in the midst of the house; and, in the same fury, cast the javelin at David, 1 Samuel 18:10-11. The reason of this is clear: because prophets did ordinarily both speak and act in a manner far different from the ordinary practice of other men; and accordingly were, by many who looked on them, thought to be mad. So the prophet sent by Elisha to anoint Jehu is called this mad fellow. 2 Kings 9:11. SIXTHLY, It signifies singing and praising God; forming of divine hymns, and singing them to God. Thus, 1 Samuel 10:5-6. Thou shalt meet a company—a college of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp before them; and they shall prophesy: (where the Chaldee paraphrase reads, shall sing,) and the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy: where the Chaldee hath it, and thou shalt praise with them. So 1 Chronicles 25:1. David separated the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, &c. and this, most probably, is the meaning of the word here; for, as, 1 Samuel 10:6. Saul's prophesying was to be an effect of the Spirit of God coming upon him, and was a sign of his being set apart by God for the kingly office, and furnished with abilities for it, which is called turning him into another man; so here God takes of the spirit which was upon Moses,—that is, the spirit of government with which he was endued, and gives it unto the seventy. And when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied; where, as the other circumstance agrees, i.e. the giving them the spirit, and fitting them for their office by that means, so the evidence of it, their prophesying, may agree also: though wherein their prophesying consisted is no where determined in Scripture. This only is unquestioned, that it was some extraordinary act: a testimony that the Spirit of God, in some extra-ordinary manner, rested upon them; and as such was discernible to all, and so fit to authorise them in the eyes of others as by miracle, and to declare to all that they were assumed to this office. To this notion of prophesying, Luke 1:67 must be interpreted: Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied; i.e. was stirred up in a very extraordinary manner, by the Spirit of God, to compose the divine hymn immediately following. See Hammond's note on the place.

And did not cease The Hebrew here is יספו ולא velo iasapu, which signifies properly, and they added not; i.e. say some commentators, they prophesied not after that day. This, it must be owned, seems but an aukward mode of expression, and would therefore incline one to follow, with Houbigant, the reading of the Samaritan, which instead of יספו, reads יאספו, (they were gathered,) and places the full stop after prophesied; so as to understand it thus: when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But two of the men were not gathered together, or assembled, but remained in the camp; that is to say, two men who had not assembled with the rest at the tabernacle, but were left in the camp, were also endued with the gift of prophesy. In confirmation of this criticism, Houbigant shews the impropriety both of our version and of that mentioned at the beginning of this note, which, indeed, must be very obvious to most readers. Many conjectures have been offered why these two men remained in the camp; but as this can only be conjecture, we shall not take up room on the subject: sickness, or some legal defilement, might probably hinder their approach to the tabernacle.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". 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

Rested upon them, i.e. not only moved them for a time, but took up his settled abode with them, because the use and end of this gift was not temporary, but perpetual; they prophesied, i.e. discoursed of the word and works of God in a singular and marvellous manner, as the prophets did. So this word is used 1 Samuel 10:5,6 Joe 2:28 Acts 2:17 1 Corinthians 14:3. Yet were they not hereby constituted prophets or teachers, but civil magistrates and rulers, who together with the Spirit of government, which is here sufficiently implied, received also the Spirit of prophecy, as a sign and seal, both to themselves and to the people, that God had called them to that employment, and would be with them in it, as it was with Saul upon the same occasion, 1 Samuel 10:10.

Did not cease, either for that day; they continued in that exercise all that day, and, it may be, all the night too, as it is said of Saul, 1 Samuel 19:24; or afterwards also, to note that this was a continued gift conferred upon them, to enable them the better to discharge their magistracy; which was more expedient for them than for the rulers of other people, because the Jews were under a theocracy, or the government of God, and even their civil controversies were decided out of that word of God which the prophets expounded; and in their wilderness condition they had frequent occasions of seeking counsel from God, which was the work of prophets, and they were to determine all things agreeably to the mind and will of God, which therefore they were obliged to study. Others translate the words, and they added not; so the sense is, They prophesied only this day for an assurance of vocation to and due qualification for their work, but afterwards they prophesied no more; the gift of prophecy ceased in them, and only the Spirit of government rested upon them.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". 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

25.In a cloud — Literally, in the cloud. This visible symbol of Jehovah’s presence, which stood above the tabernacle, descended and encompassed it and the seventy elders, and thus was the vehicle of the Spirit to them as the breath of Jesus was to the disciples. John 20:22.

And spake unto him — The communication is not recorded, perhaps because it was private.

They prophesied — The word נבא, to bubble up, occurs here the first time in the Bible. Its most common use is of inspired human discourse. It is chiefly in the passive voice, implying that the prophet is not so much the speaker as the one through whom the divine afflatus, which possesses his faculties, speaks. Thus in the Greek we have the passive form of the verb μαντευεσθαι, to divine, like μαινεσθαι, to be mad, and in the Latin vaticinari, to foretell. Hence prophecy has been regarded by all these peoples as beyond the range of the human mind, and as the work of God subsidizing human organs. This extraordinary utterance may not be limited to the prediction of future events: it may be employed in rebuke, testimony, instruction, exhortation, or comforting, 1 Corinthians 14:3. The Holy Spirit always loosens the tongue. It is fitting that the gift of speech, the crowning faculty of man as distinguished from the brutes, should be monopolized by its Giver when he takes exclusive possession of the body and soul as his temple. See 1 Samuel 10:6; 1 Samuel 19:20-23, notes; Acts 2:18; Acts 19:6. Under the Christian dispensation one in possession of the fulness of the Spirit naturally expresses himself in elevated language, or song. Ephesians 5:18-19. For the difference between the operations of the Spirit before the day of Pentecost and afterward, see Numbers 27:18, note.

And did not cease — The Septuagint literally and correctly translates this by και ουκ ετι προσεθεντο, and they did not add, (to prophecy.) They prophesied one day and ceased. Thus the R.V. This was sufficient to impress the people with their divine vocation to an office in which administration and not prophecy was the great function. The Targums, the Vulgate, and the Chaldee all read, they ceased not. This is explained by stone as a perpetual prophetic endowment, and by Patrick and others as covering only the time in which the elders surrounded the tabernacle.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". "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 11:25. Rested on them — Not only moved them for a time, but took up his settled abode with them, because the use and end of this gift were perpetual. They prophesied — Discoursed of the word and works of God in a marvellous manner, as the prophets did. So this word is used, 1 Samuel 10:5-6; Joel 2:28; 1 Corinthians 14:3. Yet were they not hereby constituted teachers, but civil magistrates, who, together with the spirit of government, received also the spirit of prophecy, as a sign and seal, both to themselves and to the people, that God had called them to that employment. They did not cease — Either for that day, continuing in that exercise all that day, and, it may be, all the night too, as it is said of Saul, 1 Samuel 19:24; or, afterward also. For this was a continued gift, conferred upon them to enable them the better to discharge their magistracy; which was more expedient for them than for the rulers of other people, because the Jews were under a theocracy, or the government of God, and even their civil controversies were decided out of that word of God which the prophets expounded.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/numbers-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Afterwards. Some give a contrary meaning to the Hebrew, with the Septuagint, Syriac, &c.: "They prophesied, (on that occasion) but they did not continue" to do so; except when they were favoured with the influence of the spirit. When it was requisite, they were enabled to declare God's will and his praise to the people. (Calmet) --- Saul is said to have prophesied when he praised God, 1 Kings x. 5, 10. (Menochius)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/numbers-11.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

spake. See note on Numbers 1:1.

did not cease. So the Vulgate; but Hebrew =. "did not add" (so Septuagint and Syriac), i.e. did not add any more, or again, after that day. Compare Exodus 11:6. Deuteronomy 5:22. Job 38:11. 1 Samuel 19:24.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". "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 the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease. The Lord came down in a cloud, [ be`aanaan (Hebrew #6051)] - in the cloud. The purpose of this visible descent was in order to speak to Moses and the seventy elders in the presence of the people.

They prophesied, and did not cease, [ wayitnab'uw (Hebrew #5012)] - they spoke under divine influence. It was originally applied to those who were recipients of divine revelations or the subjects of divine inspiration (cf. Genesis 20:7; Exodus 7:1; Exodus 15:20; 1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 10:10-15; Psalms 105:15; Luke 1:68-79), but did not predict the future. Since those elders were constituted civil governors, their "prophesying" must be understood as meaning the performance of their civil and sacred duties by the help of those extraordinary endowments they had received, and by their not "ceasing," either that they continued to exercise their gifts uninterruptedly the first day (see 1 Samuel 19:24), or that these were permanent gifts, which qualitied them in an eminent degree for discharging the duty of public magistrates.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". "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

(25) In a cloud.—Hebrew, In the cloud.

And gave it unto . . . —Better, and put it upon, as in Leviticus 2:15.

They prophesied, and did not cease.—Better, they prophesied, but did so no more. Comp. Genesis 8:12; Exodus 11:6; 2 Samuel 2:28; so the LXX. The word prophesy does not necessarily denote the prediction of future events. It is elsewhere employed to denote the celebration of the praises of God, either with the voice or with instruments of music. (Comp. 1 Samuel 10:6; 1 Kings 18:29; 1 Chronicles 25:1-3; Jeremiah 29:26.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/numbers-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.
came down
17; 12:5; Exodus 34:5; 40:38; Psalms 99:7; Luke 9:34,35
took
17; 2 Kings 2:15; James 1:17
gave it
From this place, Origen and Theodoret take occasion to compare Moses to a lamp, at which seventy others were lighted, without any diminution of its lustre.
they prophesied
By prophesying here we are to understand, their performing those civil and sacred functions for which they were qualified; exhorting the people to quiet and peaceable submission, and to trust and confidence in the providence of God.
1 Samuel 10:5,6,10; 19:20-24; Jeremiah 36:5,6; Joel 2:28,29; Acts 2:17,18; Acts 11:28; 21:9-11; 1 Corinthians 11:4,5; 14:1-3,32; 2 Peter 1:21
Reciprocal: Exodus 24:1 - seventy;  Leviticus 4:15 - the elders;  Numbers 16:25 - GeneralNumbers 24:2 - the spirit;  Judges 11:29 - the spirit;  2 Kings 2:9 - Elisha said;  2 Chronicles 20:14 - came the Spirit;  Nehemiah 9:20 - gavest;  Isaiah 11:2 - the Spirit;  Isaiah 63:11 - where is he that put;  Ezekiel 2:2 - GeneralEzekiel 8:11 - seventy;  Ezekiel 11:5 - the Spirit;  Haggai 2:5 - so;  Luke 1:67 - filled;  Luke 2:25 - Holy Ghost;  John 3:34 - for God;  Acts 2:4 - as;  1 Corinthians 12:10 - prophecy;  1 Thessalonians 5:20 - General1 Peter 4:14 - for

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Numbers 11:25". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/numbers-11.html.