Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Numbers 11:4

The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, "Who will give us meat to eat?
New American Standard

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Gluttony;   Murmuring;   Trouble;   Thompson Chain Reference - Carnality;   Companionship;   Desire;   Evil;   Mixed Multitude;   Multitudes;   Rabble, the;   Temptation;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Desert, Journey of Israel through the;   Gluttony;   Manna;   Murmuring;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Manna;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Food;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Grace;   Moses;   Prayer;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Discontent;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Food;   Mixed Multitude;   Numbers, the Book of;   Pentateuch;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Meat;   Numbers, Book of;   Red Sea (Reed Sea);   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Mixed Multitude;   Moses;   Numbers, Book of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Wanderings of the Israelites;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Mixed Multitude;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Fish;   Moses;   Plagues of Egypt;   Red Sea;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - On to Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Cushite, (Ethiopian) Woman;   Exodus, the Book of;   Lust;   Mingled People (Mixed Multitude);   Moses;   Pentateuch;   Wrath (Anger);   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Blessing, Priestly;   Calf, Golden;   Kibroth-Hattaavah;   Laver;   Sanhedrin;   Vegetarianism;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The mixed multitude - האספסף hasaphsuph, the collected or gathered people. Such as came out of Egypt with the Israelites; and are mentioned Exodus 12:38. This mongrel people, who had comparatively little of the knowledge of God, feeling the difficulties and fatigues of the journey, were the first to complain; and then we find the children of Israel joined them in their complainings, and made a common cause with these demi-infidels.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/numbers-11.html. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

Numbers 11:4

The mixt multitude.

The mixed multitude

If Israel, according to its calling, be regarded as a type of the new man, then this “mixed multitude,” a remnant of Egypt, and influenced still by its spirit, will be a type of the old man in the believer But we may take another view of Israel, and say that it is typical of those who walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit--the true members of Christ’s body, the living branches of the true vine; and then, corresponding with this, the “ mixed multitude” will be a type of those who accompany the true Israel now, without being partakers of the Divine nature, and walking in the Spirit--the dead branches in the vine. History shows that the Church on earth has ever been made up of these two elements; and prophetic parables show that such will be its constitution until Jesus comes. The Word of God everywhere encourages the living members of Christ’s body, by patience, and gentleness, and unwearied zeal, to win those who have only a name to live. But it forbids them to take into their own hands the awful work of separation between the wheat and the tares, a work which the Searcher of hearts reserves to Himself alone. So that it need cause us no surprise, as it did the Donatists of old, and still does to some, that there is, and always will be, a “mixed multitude” associated with the true Israel. But though we are absolutely forbidden to cast out the element from the Church, this passage of Scripture may well impress us with the danger arising from it, and show how watchful we ought to be. Even if the Church were made up of true Christians only, there would be much evil in it, for the simple reason that there is so much sin in every heart. Many temptations may come to you even from those who are really Christ’s, and who are engaged, through grace, in crucifying the affections and lusts of the flesh; but others will come to you, as they did to Israel of old, from the “mixed multitude”; and what dangers in particular? Party spirit, we cannot fail to see, is one; but, oh, there is a greater and more subtle danger still--worldliness, conformity to the course of this world; and with it, forgetfulness of the high and holy calling wherewith we are called, and the adoption of a low standard of holiness. Our only safety is to set the perfect example of our Lord Jesus Christ before us; to ask ourselves again and again throughout the day, “How would Christ act if He were in my place?” to crucify through the Spirit the root of worldliness within, and to watch all the avenues by which it can enter the heart from without. Only in this way can our own standard be elevated; only in this way avoid Israel’s sin, that of being carried away by the worldly spirit which originated in the “mixed multitude” which sojourned with them. (G. Wagner.)

Who shall give us flesh to eat?--

Wanton longings

See the wantonness and delicacy of sinful flesh, it must have this, it must have that to pamper and feed it in pleasure. What may be had is loathed, and what cannot be had, that is longed for, and nothing more than that. But very wisely doth the heathen Aristotle advise all men to look upon pleasures when they go, not when they come; for when they come with their faces towards us, they deceive us with a fair flattering show, but when they go and turn their backs, then cometh repentance, woe, and grief, not a little, many times. Just as the Spirit of God saith by the mouth of Solomon, “Even in laughing the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness”; that is, the allurement unto sin seemeth sweet, but the end thereof is destruction. Wanton pleasure is like the fire or flame of the candle, which shining bright delighteth a child, but when he hath put his finger into it, then it burneth, and the child crieth. By little and little groweth grief, but in the end it killeth, so stealingly pleasure creepeth upon us, but in the end overthroweth all love of virtue. Wilt thou live in a right fashion? Who would not? Then if virtue only can grant this to thee, stout and strong, tend this and omit pleasures. For they that will well defend a city, do not only watch what foes be without, but as warily they observe that there be no traitors within. So men and women that love virtue, they look to the gates, which are the outward senses, and they look within, to the inward affections, lest by the one, as by wickets, evil enter, lest by the other, as by torches lighted, fires and flames do follow. The epicure said to himself, “Eat, drink, play, for there is no pleasure after death.” But well doth the poet before mentioned in an epistle tax him, saying, “Thou hast played enough, thou hast eaten enough and drank, it is time for thee now to go hence.” As if he had said, “Part thou must in time with all thy pleasures and be gone, therefore think of it ere it be too late.” Sardanapalus is said to have caused to be written on his grave to this effect: “What I did eat that I had, and what I left, that I lost.” Which Cicero justly reprehendeth, saying, “What else should a man hath written upon an ex his grave? Pleasure infecteth and poisoneth all our senses, being a trim but a deceiving harlot; deceiving us by her voice, by her look, and by her attire, that is, every way.” How many hath gluttony and the belly, how many hath filthy lust destroyed! (Bp. Babington.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Numbers 11:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/numbers-11.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And the mixed multitude that was among them lusted exceedingly: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt for naught; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: but now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all save this manna to look upon. And the manna was like coriander seed, and the appearance thereof as the appearance of bdellium. The people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in mortars, and boiled it in pots, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil. And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it."

"And the mixed multitude that was among them ..." (Numbers 11:4). Plaut gave the meaning of this as "the riffraff."[6] Owens called them, the rabble, adding that "the word occurs nowhere else in the O.T."[7] They were part of the great mob of people that followed Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 12:38). In the account here, it is very evident that this vast throng of stragglers and hangers-on were a major source of trouble.

McGee's comment on this mixed multitude is of interest:

"The real troublemakers in any church are the mixed multitude. They are fellow-travelers with the world and with the church. They like a church banquet, but they don't want the Bible school. They do not want to go forward with the ark of God; they want to stay in the back, for they might want to turn and go back some time."[8]

"Who shall give us flesh to eat ...?" (Numbers 11:4). There could be more to this request than meets the eye. We are indebted to Plaut for the comment that, "The words used here are a euphemism for the sexual license they enjoyed in Egypt, but forbidden in the Law."[9] Some commentators find fault here, because, they say, "This lack of flesh is inconsistent with the possession by Israel of great flocks and herds of cattle (Exodus 12:32,38, etc.)."[10] Many recent commentators still follow this old, discredited view. First, the cattle they owned would have been very shortly deleted and consumed if used for food; and besides that, the possession of herds in Israel was by no means universal. The instructions for the offering by a poor man of two turtle doves on occasion proves this. An incredible number of animals were used in the sacrifices, and there was no way that the people could afford to reduce the supply of animals. Furthermore, the employment of many of the cattle in the dairy business would also have forbidden their use as beef cattle.

"Israel also wept again ..." (Numbers 11:4). "This points to the former complaint of the people respecting the absence of flesh in the desert of Sin (Exodus 16:2ff)."[11] This truth frustrates all allegations about the two occasions being merely various accounts of one event. As a matter of fact, it is not mentioned that "they wept" in the first account, but the mention here of their weeping "again" proves that they did. This type of narrative is common in the sacred writings. (See Jonah 1:4). Furthermore, the riffraff, remembering the quails they got the first time, were, in this case, the leaders of a demand for more. It appears a little later that they even organized this demonstration.

The description of the manna given here is not exactly like that in Exodus, but so what? Ask any two or three people today to describe the taste of an olive and see what happens. To one the manna tasted like honey, to others like fresh oil; to some it appeared "white," and to others the color of bdellium. Since nobody on earth today knows anything at all about bdellium,[12] it is mere cavil to allege "a contradiction." Furthermore, even the phrase rendered here "as the taste of fresh oil" actually means, "its taste was like that of a dainty prepared with oil."[13] Thus, it is clear that no problems whatever exist with regard to these passages on the manna.

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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 11:4". "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 the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting,.... These came out of Egypt with them, Exodus 12:38; having either contracted affinity with them, or such intimacy of conversation, that they could not part, or being proselyted to the Jewish religion, at least in pretence; these were not only Egyptians, but a mixture of divers people, who having heard or seen the wonderful things done for Israel, joined them in hopes of sharing the blessings of divine goodness with them; so the Targum of Jonathan calls them proselytes, that were gathered among them: these "lusted a lusting"F20התאוו תאוח "concupiverunt concupiscentiam", Pagninus: Montanus, Drusius. , as the words may be rendered; not after women, as some Jewish writersF21Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 219. 1. think, even after such that were near akin to them, with whom they were forbidden to marry, and therefore desired to have those laws dissolved; but they lusted after eating flesh taken in a proper sense, as the latter part of the verse and the whole context show:

and the children of Israel also wept again; they lusted after flesh likewise, following the example of the mixed multitude; thus evil communication corrupts good manners, 1 Corinthians 15:33; and a little leaven leavens the whole lamp, 1 Corinthians 5:6; wicked men prove great snares to, and do much mischief among good men, when they get into their societies, Jeremiah 5:26, and because the Israelites could not have what they would to gratify their lusts, they wept as children do, when they cannot have what they are desirous of; and they wept "again", for it seems they had wept before, either when they complained, Numbers 11:1; or at Rephidim, where they wanted water, Exodus 17:1, as here flesh, or before that when they wanted bread, Exodus 16:3,

and said, who shall give us flesh to eat? shall Moses, or even the Lord himself? from lusting they fell to unbelief and distrust of the power and providence of God; for so the Psalmist interprets this saying of theirs, Psalm 78:19.

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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 11:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/numbers-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And the mixt a multitude that [was] among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?

(a) Which were of those strangers that came out of Egypt with them, (Exodus 12:38).
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/numbers-11.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting — These consisted of Egyptians. [See on Exodus 12:38.] To dream of banquets and plenty of animal food in the desert becomes a disease of the imagination; and to this excitement of the appetite no people are more liable than the natives of Egypt. But the Israelites participated in the same feelings and expressed dissatisfaction with the manna on which they had hitherto been supported, in comparison with the vegetable luxuries with which they had been regaled in Egypt.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". "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

Observe, the murmuring begins with the mixed multitude, but it doth not end there. Israel also is soon infected. How necessary that precept, Ephesians 5:11. My soul! are not all the lusts of a corrupt nature of the same kind? Romans 3:9.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/numbers-11.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?

Israel also — Whose special relation and obligation to God should have restrained them from such carriage.

Flesh — This word is here taken generally so as to include fish, as the next words shew. They had indeed cattle which they brought out of Egypt, but these were reserved for breed to be carried into Canaan, and were so few that they would scarce have served them for a month.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/numbers-11.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

mixt mixed

CF. Exodus 12:38. (See Scofield "Exodus 12:38"). Unconverted church members, unable to desire or understand Christ as the Bread of God Exodus 16:35. See Scofield "Exodus 16:35" will clamour for things pleasing to the flesh in the work and way of the church: sumptuous buildings, ornate ritual, an easy doctrine. Alas! they lead away the unspiritual believers also.

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Numbers 11:4". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/numbers-11.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Numbers 11:4 And the mixt multitude that [was] among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?

Ver. 4. And the mixed multitude.] {See Trapp on "Exodus 12:38"} Observe the danger of ill company. Fish retain their sweetness in the salt sea. The river Dee in Merionethshire, running through Pimblemere, remains entire, and mingles not her streams with the waters of the lake. The rivers of Peru, after they have run some miles into the sea, retain their sweetness, as writers report. But to converse with the ungodly, and not to learn their manners, is marvellously rare and difficult. A man may pass through Ethiopia unchanged; but he cannot dwell there and not be discoloured.

The children of Israel wept again.] And were punished again. Herein they were like froward children, that, while crying for an apple that is in the father’s hand, will fling away the cake that is in their own; and so get a whipping rather than a pippin, as we say; a lashing rather than their longing.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/numbers-11.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Numbers 11:4. The mixt multitude See Exodus 12:38. Infected by the example of this mixed multitude, the children of Israel returned again to their former murmurings, and bemoaned themselves for the want of the provisions they had fed upon in Egypt. "Their sin," says Bishop Kidder, "was much aggravated upon the following accounts: 1st, They declared their distrust of God's power and providence, whereof they had had so great experience; see Exodus 16:2. Psalms 78:22; Psalms 100:2 nd, They un-thankfully despised God and his former mercies. 3rdly, They covetously desired flesh, when they had much cattle of their own." Exodus 32:35 with Numbers 32:4.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". 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

The mixt multitude, consisting of Egyptians or other people, which being affected with God’s miraculous works in Egypt, and thereupon believing the promise of God to carry them to a land of milk and honey, for their own advantage joined themselves to the Israelites, Exodus 12:38, an now, finding themselves sadly disappointed, they discover their evil minds.

The children of Israel, whose special relation and obligation to God should have restrained them from such carriages.

Wept again: this word relates either to their former murmuring upon this occasion a twelvemonth before, Exodus 16:2, or rather to their complaining mentioned Numbers 11:1, to note the aggravation of their sin, that having just now sinned in the same kind, and sorely smarted for their sin, and being but newly delivered from their fears and dangers caused thereby, they forthwith return to their vomit and murmur again, and that more passionately than before, expressing themselves in tears and bitter words.

Flesh: this word is here taken generally, so as to include fish, as the next words show, and as it is used 1 Corinthians 15:39. They had indeed flesh and cattle which they brought with them out of Egypt, but these were reserved for breed to be carried into Canaan, and were so few that they would scarce have served them for a month, as may be gathered from Numbers 11:20-22.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". 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

4.Mixed multitude — The Hebrew is very expressive, it being a syllable intensively repeated, saph-sooph, the gathering of the gathered, much like our word riffraff, or ruffscuff. “With these two millions of Israelites also went up a mixed multitude of varied descent, drawn in the wake of God’s people by the signs and wonders so lately witnessed — just as a mixed crowd still follows after every spiritual movement, a source of hinderance rather than of help to it, ever continuing strangers, and at most only fit to act as hewers of wood and drawers of water.” — Edersheim. Tacitus, though egregiously caricaturing Jewish history in many particulars, employs a phrase peculiarly appropriate to this mongrel horde of hangers-on and camp-followers when he describes Israel as “populi colluvies undecumque collecta,” the dregs of people collected from everywhere. See Exodus 12:38, note. Many of this mixed multitude were related to Israel by intermarriage. Leviticus 24:10, note. There is nothing more damaging to the cause of Christ, and to the purity of his Church, than intimacy with men of mixed principles. This association is much more dangerous than it is with men of unmixed evil characters, whose open hostility puts the Christian on his guard.

Fell a lusting — Hebrew, lusted a lust.

Wept again — Literally, returned and wept. Similar complaining, respecting the absence of flesh, but without mention of tears, took place in the desert of Sin, Exodus 16:2-12. The Israelites, instead of feeling disgust at the animalism of the mob, began to imitate them. “A few factious, discontented, ill-natured people may do a great deal of mischief in the best societies, if great care be not taken to discountenance it. This Egyptian rabble were the disordered sheep that infected the flock, the leaven that leavened the whole lump.” — Henry.

Flesh to eat — This is not the language of the starving, but of epicures. Their gross appetites were not satisfied with the wholesome food from heaven plentifully bestowed. The best Hebraists consider the flesh in this verse as the flesh of fish only, a much more savory food than any flesh diet which was likely to be within reach of the oppressed Israelites. Fish was, and is to this day, a staple article of food among the poor in Egypt.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". "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 11:4. The children of Israel also wept again — That is, they again complained and murmured, that God had so lately visited them with such awful marks of his displeasure; though their special relation and obligation to God should have restrained them from any such carriage. Bishop Kidder justly observes, that “their sin was much aggravated on the following accounts: 1st, They declared their distrust of God’s power and providence, of which they had had so great experience. 2d, They despised God and his former mercies. 3d, They covetously desired flesh, when they had much cattle of their own, Exodus 12:32; Exodus 12:38, and Numbers 32:4.”

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/numbers-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

For, seems, however, to connect the burning of some with the destruction of many more, who had eaten the quails, as if both judgments took place at the same encampment. Septuagint render the Hebrew, "and a mixt rabble among them, desired greatly; and sitting, cried, as well as the Israelites, and said," &c. (Haydock) --- A mixt multitude. These were people that came with them out of Egypt, who were not of the race of Israel: who, by their murmuring, drew also the children of Israel to murmur: this should teach us the danger of associating ourselves with the children of Egypt; that is, with the lovers and admirers of this wicked world. (Challoner) --- This verse may relate a different history from the preceding ones, as the punishment was of another kind. (Du Hamel) --- The murmurers were burnt to death. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/numbers-11.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

multitude = camp followers. See Exodus 12:38.

fell a lusting. Hebrew Figure of speech Polyptoton, App-6. = "lusted a lusting", emphatic for lusted exceedingly. Psalms 106:14; Psalms 78:18-20.

children = sons.

Who shall give? Figure of speech Erotesis (App-6).

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". "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 mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?

Mixed multitude ... fell a lusting. These consisted of Egyptians (see the note at Exodus 12:38). To dream of banquets and plenty of animal food in the desert becomes a disease of the imagination; and to this excitement of the appetite no people are more liable than the natives of Egypt. But the Israelites participated in the same feelings, and expressed dissatisfaction with the manna on which they had hitherto been supported, in comparison with the vegetable luxuries with which they had been regaled in Egypt.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". "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

(4) And the mixt multitude.—The Authorised Version follows the LXX. and the Vulgate in rendering the word asaph-suph, which occurs only in this place, and which is derived from a verb which means to collect, in the same way as the ereb of Exodus 12:38, a mixed multitude, vulgus promiscuum—in many cases, probably, the children of Hebrew women by Egyptian fathers. This mixed multitude appears to have been very considerable, and they may have become, as the Gibeonites at a later period, servants to the Israelites, as hewers of wood and drawers of water (Deuteronomy 29:11). It is probable that this mixed multitude may have partaken even more largely than the Israelites of the fish and vegetables of Egypt, and they appear to have instigated the Israelites to repine at the deprivations to which they were exposed in the wilderness. There is no mention in Exodus 16:3 of weeping, but the same craving after the flesh-pots of Egypt was probably manifested in the same manner in both cases.

Who shall give us flesh to eat?—The word basar, which is rendered flesh, seems here to include—it may be to have primary reference to—fish. It is used of fish in Leviticus 11:11, and it is obvious from Numbers 11:22 that it was understood by Moses in this general signification. Cp. the use of flesh (1 Corinthians 15:39).

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/numbers-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?
the mixed
Exodus 12:38; Leviticus 24:10,11; Nehemiah 13:3
fell a lusting
Heb. lusted a lust. the children.
1 Corinthians 15:33
wept again
Heb. returned and wept. Who shall.
Psalms 78:18-20; 106:14; Romans 13:14; 1 Corinthians 10:6
Reciprocal: Exodus 16:3 - flesh;  Exodus 17:2 - the people;  Leviticus 25:20 - GeneralNumbers 11:18 - ye have wept;  Numbers 33:16 - Kibrothhattaavah;  Deuteronomy 9:7 - from the day;  Deuteronomy 9:22 - Kibrothhattaavah;  Deuteronomy 12:20 - I will;  Deuteronomy 29:11 - stranger;  2 Samuel 23:15 - longed;  1 Chronicles 11:17 - longed;  Psalm 78:19 - Can God;  Psalm 105:40 - asked;  Proverbs 27:7 - full;  Malachi 1:12 - The table;  Matthew 4:3 - command;  1 John 2:16 - the lust of the flesh;  Revelation 18:14 - thy soul

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/numbers-11.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4.And the mixed multitude that was among them. A new murmuring of the people is here recorded: for we gather from many circumstances that this relation is different from that which precedes: although, as evil begets evil, it is probable that after they had begun to be affected by the disease of impatience, they spitefully invented grounds for increased tedium and annoyance. Yet there was something monstrous in this madness, that, when they had just been so severely chastised, and part of’ the camp was even yet almost smoking, and when God was hardly appeased, they should have given way to the indulgence of lust, whereby they brought upon themselves a still more severe punishment. Unquestionably, when they again provoked God by their iniquity, the remains of the fire were still before their eyes; whence it appears how greatly they were blinded by their obstinate wickedness. He states, indeed, that the murmuring first began among the strangers, or mixed multitude, who had mingled themselves with the Israelites, as we have seen elsewhere; but he adds that the whole people also were led into imitation of their ungodly complainings. Hence we are taught, that the wicked and sinful should be avoided, lest they should corrupt us by their bad example; since the contagion of vice easily spreads. At the same time also, we are warned, that it does not at all avail to excuse us, that others are the instigators of our sin; since it by no means profited the Israelites, that they fell through the influence of others, inasmuch as it was their own lust; which carried them away. In the first place, therefore, we must beware that our corrupt desires do not tempt us, and we must put a restraint upon ourselves; and then that the profane despisers of God do not add fuel to the fire.

A question here occurs, whether it is sinful to long for flesh; for if so, all our appetites must. likewise be condemned. I answer, that God was not wroth because the desire of flesh affected the Israelites; but, first, their disobedience displeased Him, because they longed to eat; flesh, as it were, against His will, when He would have them content with the manna alone; and then their intemperance and violent passion. For this reason Moses says that they “lusted a lust,” (14) indicating that they abandoned all self-control, so as to go beyond all bounds. In the third place, their ingratitude displeased Him, which is here adverted to, but openly condemned in the Psalm, where the Prophet reproves them, for that God “had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven,” so as to supply them with the “corn of heaven,” and the bread “of angels,” (Psalms 78:23;) and yet, even so they were not restrained from despising so excellent a benefit, and abandoning themselves to lawless intemperance. The rule of moderation, and of a sober and frugal life, which Paul prescribes, is well known; that we should

“know both how to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4:12.)

Well known, too, is his admonition, that we should

“make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:14.)

All improper longing is, therefore, to be repressed, so that we should desire nothing which is not lawful; and, secondly, that our appetites should not be excessive. Hence, when he refers elsewhere to this occurrence, (1 Corinthians 10:6,)he warns us to fear the judgment of God; “to the intent we should not lust after evil things,” thus distinguishing wild and uncontrolled appetites from such as are moderate and well regulated.

When they ask, “Who shall give us flesh to eat?” they seek to have it elsewhere than from God, who abundantly supplied them with food, though it was of a different kind. We see, then, that they rebelled with a brutal and blind impetuosity; for necessity was laid upon them by God, that they should eat nothing but manna; against this they struggled like fierce and stubborn beasts, as if they would make God the servant of their lust.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/numbers-11.html. 1840-57.