Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Numbers 11:33

While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very severe plague.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Anger;   Blessing;   Gluttony;   Happiness;   Judgments;   Kibroth-Hattaavah;   Murmuring;   Plague;   Prayer;   Sanitation;   Trouble;   Worldliness;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Anger of God, the;   Desert, Journey of Israel through the;   Diseases;   Gluttony;   Happiness of the Wicked, the;   Plague or Pestilence, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Manna;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Discontent;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Murmuring;   Plague;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Wilderness of the Wanderings;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Meat;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Medicine;   Moses;   Numbers, Book of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Wanderings of the Israelites;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Elders;   Government of the Hebrews;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - On to Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Plague;   Quail;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Anger;   Elohist;   Flesh;   Plague;   Vegetarianism;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The wrath of the Lord was kindled - In what way, and with what effects, we cannot precisely determine. Some heavy judgment fell upon those murmurers and complainers, but of what kind the sacred writer says nothing.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Numbers 11:33". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/numbers-11.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And while the flesh was yet between their teeth,.... When they had just got it into their mouths, and were about to bite it:

ere it was chewed; or "cut off"; or cut into pieces by the "incisores", or fore teeth, and then ground by the "molares", or grinders, and so became fit to be swallowed. Both quails and locusts were eaten as food; the former is a fat and delicious fowl, and the latter, some sorts of them, at least, were allowed clean food for the Jews, and were fed on by many people:

the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people; for their lusting after flesh, and despising the manna:

and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague; the pestilence, as Aben Ezra; or with fire, as BochartF5Ut supra, (Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 1. c. 15.) Colossians 109. , who gives the following reasons why the people were so severely punished now, and not before, when they murmured on a like account; because their sin's were greater, and more aggravated, they falling again into the same sin which had been forgiven them; and besides, they were before pressed with famine, now they had a plenty of manna every day; and also were better instructed, having received the law, which was not yet given when they were just come out of Egypt. SulpitiusF6 the historian says, 23,000 perished at this time.

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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 11:33". "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

while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed — literally, “cut off”; that is, before the supply of quails, which lasted a month (Numbers 11:20), was exhausted. The probability is, that their stomachs, having been long inured to manna (a light food), were not prepared for so sudden a change of regimen - a heavy, solid diet of animal food, of which they seem to have partaken to so intemperate a degree as to produce a general surfeit, and fatal consequences. On a former occasion their murmurings for flesh were raised (Exodus 16:1-8) because they were in want of food. Here they proceeded, not from necessity, but wanton, lustful desire; and their sin, in the righteous judgment of God, was made to carry its own punishment.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
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 11:33". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/numbers-11.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

But while the flesh was still between their teeth, and before it was ground, i.e., masticated, the wrath of the Lord burned against them, and produced among the people a very great destruction. This catastrophe is not to be regarded as “the effect of the excessive quantity of quails that they had eaten, on account of the quails feeding upon things which are injurious to man, so that eating the flesh of quails produces convulsions and giddiness (for proofs, see Bochart, Hieroz . ii. pp. 657ff.),” as Knobel supposes, but as an extraordinary judgment inflicted by God upon the greedy people, by which a great multitude of people were suddenly swept away.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Numbers 11:33". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/numbers-11.html. 1854-1889.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Reader! behold again in this instance the awful consequence in having our carnal, ungovernable appetites gratified. LORD! do thou regulate our inordinate affections, and bring every thought and desire into captivity to the obedience of CHRIST. 2 Corinthians 10:5.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Numbers 11:33". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/numbers-11.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.

Chewed — Heb. cut off, namely from their mouths.

A very great plague — Probably the pestilence. But the sense is, before they had done eating their quails, which lasted for a month. Why did God so sorely punish the peoples murmuring for flesh here, when he spared them after the same sin, Exodus 16:12. Because this was a far greater sin, and aggravated with worse circumstances; proceeding not from necessity, as that did, when as yet they had no food, but from mere wantonness, when they had Manna constantly given them; committed after large experience of God's care and kindness, after God had pardoned their former sins, and after God had in a solemn and terrible manner made known his laws to them.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:33". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/numbers-11.html. 1765.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Numbers 11:33. And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, &c.— It is impossible to determine, as Calmet justly remarks, how many days they used this food, or what was the plague wherewith the Lord smote them. Some say that this plague was a pestilence, others a consumption, others a fire, such as that spoken of at the beginning of the chapter; an opinion, which seems to be supported by Psalms 78:21. Calmet conjectures, that the quails themselves might prove destructive to the gluttonous and intemperate Israelites, long unused to flesh; but one may more rationally conceive, that the plague was an immediate punishment from the avenging hand of God. It is most probable, that this plague happened not to them till they had fed upon the quails for a space of a month, promised Numbers 11:20.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Numbers 11:33". 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

Chewed, Heb. cut off, to wit, from their mouths, which is here understood, and expressed Joel 1:5, i.e. ere it was taken away, as the flocks are said to be cut off from the fold, Habakkuk 3:17, when they are lost and perished. The sense is, before they had done eating their quails, which lasted for a month, as appears from Numbers 11:20.

A very great plague; whether it was leanness sent into them, Psalms 106:15, whereby the food was deprived of its nourishing power, which it hath only from God’s blessing; or surfeit, a punishment most suitable to their sin, and most likely to follow their intemperate desire and use of this food; or the pestilence; it is not much material: but a great and sore plague unquestionably it was.

Quest. Why did God so sorely punish the people’s murmuring and complaining for lack of flesh here, when he spared them after the same sin, Exo 16?

Answ. Because this sin was a far greater sin than that, and aggravated with worse circumstances; as proceeding not from necessity, as that did, when as yet they had no food, but from mere lust and wantonness, when they had manna constantly given them; as committed after large experience of God’s care and kindness, after God had pardoned their former sins, and after God had in a solemn and terrible manner made known his laws and duty to them.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 11:33". 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

33.While the flesh’ teeth — Before the flesh was chewed and swallowed, the wrath of Jehovah burned against the people, not as Knobel supposes, as the effect of the excessive quantity of quails eaten, producing giddiness and convulsions, but as a manifest judgment direct from God, by which a great multitude were suddenly swept away.

The wrath of the Lord was kindled — This phrase is no sign of a lower conception of God than the Lord Jesus gives. Wrath is an integral part of love, when the lover is perfectly holy and the loved are unholy. The most terrible anger is that of perfect meekness, as expressed in that solemn paradox of the apostle of love, “the wrath of the Lamb.” God was angry with Israel because he loved them, and desired their love for their own good. The fact of his choice of Israel for his own, and the intensity of his love, were shown no less by his anger at their sin than by the blessings which crowned obedience.

Great plague — The Hebrew for plague signifies a stroke. It does not here indicate any particular disease, but a sudden and widespread destruction of human life.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 11:33". "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 11:33. The Lord smote the people with a very great plague — With a pestilence, say some, with a consumption, say others. But it seems more probable that it was by some untimely death, which was the effect of their own gluttony and intemperance. This seems to agree best with the threatening, Numbers 11:20. God was pleased, in a great measure, to overlook their first murmuring, about a year before, when he sent them the manna, because they were then under great necessity, being really pinched with hunger; whereas now that they were fed with bread from heaven, they cried for meat, not from need, but mere wantonness, and that after much experience of God’s care and kindness, after he had pardoned their former sins, and after he had made known his laws to them in a most solemn and terrible manner. Besides, the longer God exercises forbearance, the more is the offender’s guilt aggravated, if he remain impenitent. Reader, remember, “the goodness of God leads thee to repentance,” and take heed that thou do not, “after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasure up to thyself wrath against the day of wrath!”

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 11:33". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/numbers-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Plague of fire, ver. 3, Psalm lxxvii. 21. (Cornelius a Lapide) --- Failed, after the month was expired. (Menochius) --- They had been accustomed to live upon manna, which was a light food, during the space of a year; and now eating greedily of this flesh, their stomachs were overcharged, and they died of an indigestion. (Calmet) --- The Rabbins say, God punished their gluttony by death, and obliged the rest of the Hebrews to abstain from all flesh, except from that of the peace-offerings, till they entered the promised land. (Selden, Syn. 2, 4.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Numbers 11:33". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/numbers-11.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

flesh. Compare Psalms 78:27-31.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Numbers 11:33". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/numbers-11.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(33) With a very great plague.—The noun, maccah. plague, is cognate to the verb which is rendered smote. It is frequently used of a stroke inflicted by God, as, e.g., pestilence or any epidemic sickness. A surfeit, such as that in which the Israelites had indulged, especially under the circumstances in which they were placed, would naturally produce a considerable amount of sickness. Here, then, as in the account of the plagues of Egypt and in other parts of the sacred history, the natural and the supernatural are closely combined.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:33". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/numbers-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.
And while
Psalms 78:30,31; 106:14,15
smote
16:49; 25:9; Deuteronomy 28:27
Reciprocal: Numbers 16:46 - there is wrath;  Numbers 20:3 - when;  Job 20:23 - he is about;  Psalm 99:8 - though;  Psalm 107:17 - because;  Mark 3:10 - as many;  Hebrews 2:2 - every

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Numbers 11:33". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/numbers-11.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

33.And while the flesh was yet between their teeth. Moses does not specify any particular day; but only that God did not wait till satiety had produced disgust, but inflicted the punishment in the midst of their greediness. We may, however, conjecture from what precedes, that time was given them to gorge themselves. From whence their insatiable voracity may be gathered, which prevailed for so many continuous days, and could not be appeased by any quantity of food. God, therefore, allowed them time abundantly sufficient for them to gorge themselves, unless their gluttony was prodigious: and yet punished their intemperance, while the meat was yet in their mouths. They were, then, suddenly surprised in the midst of their guttling; and hence it is said in the Psalm, (Psalms 78:30,) “they were not yet estranged from their lust;” just as any glutton might choke himself, by devouring more than his throat could hold. Nor is that at variance with their repletion, of which mention was lately made; for, however the belly may swell with the quantity of its contents, the furious lust of eating is never appeased. But, in order that their punishment might be more manifest, God inflicted it in the very act; nor could any better opportunity have been chosen.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:33". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/numbers-11.html. 1840-57.