Bamidbar 11

1 1 And when the people complained, it displeased Hashem; Hashem heard it; His anger was kindled; and the Eish Hashem burned among them, and consumed them that were at the edge of the machaneh.
2 And the people cried unto Moshe; and when Moshe davened unto Hashem, the eish was quenched.
3 He called shem hamakom Taverah because the Eish Hashem burned among them.
4 And the rabble that was among them fell a-lusting; and the Bnei Yisroel also wept again, and said, If only we had basar to eat!
5 We remember the fish, which we did eat in Mitzrayim at no cost; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic;
6 But now our nefesh is dried up; there is nothing at all, besides this manna, before our eyes.
7 And the manna was like coriander seed, and the color thereof like the color of white gum resin.
8 And the people went about and gathered it, and ground it in handmills, or crushed it in the mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was like the taste of cakes prepared of shemen.
9 And when the dew fell upon the machaneh in the lailah, the manna fell with it.
10 Then Moshe heard the people wailing throughout their mishpekhot, every man in the entrance of his ohel; and the anger of Hashem was kindled greatly; Moshe also was displeased.
11 And Moshe said unto Hashem, Why hast Thou afflicted Thy eved? And why have I not found chen (favor) in Thy sight, that Thou layest the massa (burden) of all this people upon me?
12 Have I conceived all this people? Have I fathered them, that Thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as the one nursing beareth the nursing infant, unto the land which Thou didst swear unto their avot?
13 Where should I get basar to give unto all this people? For they wail unto me, saying, Give us basar, that we may eat.
14 I am not able to carry all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.
15 And if Thou deal thus with me, kill me, please, at once, if I have found chen in Thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.
16 And Hashem said unto Moshe, Gather unto Me seventy men of the Zekenim of Yisroel, whom thou knowest to be the Ziknei HaAm, and officers over them; and bring them unto the Ohel Moed, that they may stand there with thee.
17 And I will come down and speak with thee there; and I will take of the Ruach [Hakodesh] that is upon thee, and will put [Him] upon them; and they shall bear the massa HaAm (burden of the People) with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.
18 And say thou unto the people, Set yourselves apart as kodesh against tomorrow, and ye shall eat basar; for ye have wept in the ears of Hashem, saying, Who shall give us basar to eat? For it was well with us in Mitzrayim; therefore Hashem will give you basar, and ye shall eat.
19 Lo (not) ye shall eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days;
20 But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you; because that meastem (ye have rejected) Hashem Who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, Why came we forth out of Mitzrayim?
21 And Moshe said, The people, among whom I am, are 600,000 men on foot; and Thou hast said, I will give them basar, that they may eat a whole month.
22 Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? Or shall all the dag (fish) of the yam be gathered together for them, to suffice them?
23 And Hashem said unto Moshe, Is the Yad Hashem cut short (i.e., limited in power)? Thou shalt see now whether My Devar shall come to pass unto thee or not.
24 And Moshe went out, and told HaAm the divrei Hashem, and gathered the seventy men of the Ziknei HaAm, and set them round about the Ohel [Moed].
25 And Hashem came down in an Anan, and spoke unto him, and took of the Ruach [Hakodesh] that was upon him, and gave [Him] unto the seventy Zekenim; and it came to pass, that, when the Ruach [Hakodesh] rested upon them, they prophesied, but did not continue. [See Shmuel Alef 10:6; 19:24; Ac 19:6]
26 But there remained two of the anashim in the machaneh, the shem of the one was Eldad, and the shem of the other Medad: and the Ruach [Hakodesh] rested upon them; and they were of them that were listed, but went not out unto the Ohel [Moed]; and they prophesied in the machaneh.
27 And there ran a young man, and told Moshe, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the machaneh.
28 And Yehoshua Ben Nun, the mesharet Moshe, one of his chosen young men, answered and said, Moshe adoni, forbid them.
29 And Moshe said unto him, Are you jealous for my sake? If only kol Am Hashem were neviim, and that Hashem would put His Ruach upon them [see Yoel 2:28 (3:1)]!
30 And Moshe went back to the machaneh, he and the Ziknei Yisroel.
31 And there went forth a wind from Hashem, it drove in quail from the yam, brought them down over the machaneh at a height of two cubits from the ground for the distance of a day’s journey all around the machaneh.
32 And the people stood up all that yom, and kol halailah, and all the next day, and they gathered in the quail; he that gathered least gathered ten homers; and they spread them all out for themselves round about the machaneh.
33 And while the basar was yet between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of Hashem was kindled against the people, and Hashem struck down the people with a makkah rabbah me’od (a very great plague).
34 And the shem of that place was called Kivrothataavah (graves of greed) because there they buried the people that lusted.
35 And the people set out from Kivrot-hataavah unto Chatzerot; and abode at Chatzerot.

Bamidbar 11 Commentary

Chapter 11

The burning at Taberah. (1-3) The people lust for flesh, and loathe the manna. (4-9) Moses complains of his charge. (10-15) Elders appointed to divide the charge. Flesh meat promised. (16-23) The Spirit rests on the elders. (24-30) Quails are given. (31-35)

Verses 1-3 Here is the people's sin; they complained. See the sinfulness of sin, which takes occasion from the commandment to be provoking. The weakness of the law discovered sin, but could not destroy it; checked, but could not conquer it. They complained. Those who are of a discontented spirit, will always find something to quarrel or fret about, though the circumstances of their outward condition be ever so favourable. The Lord heard it, though Moses did not. God knows the secret frettings and murmurings of the heart, though concealed from men. What he noticed, he was much displeased with, and he chastised them for this sin. The fire of their wrath against God burned in their minds; justly did the fire of God's wrath fasten on their bodies; but God's judgments came on them gradually, that they might take warning. It appeared that God delights not in punishing; when he begins, he is soon prevailed with to let it fall.

Verses 4-9 Man, having forsaken his proper rest, feels uneasy and wretched, though prosperous. They were weary of the provision God had made for them, although wholesome food and nourishing. It cost no money or care, and the labour of gathering it was very little indeed; yet they talked of Egypt's cheapness, and the fish they ate there freely; as if that cost them nothing, when they paid dearly for it with hard service! While they lived on manna, they seemed exempt from the curse sin has brought on man, that in the sweat of his face he should eat bread; yet they speak of it with scorn. Peevish, discontented minds will find fault with that which has no fault in it, but that it is too good for them. Those who might be happy, often make themselves miserable by discontent. They could not be satisfied unless they had flesh to eat. It is evidence of the dominion of the carnal mind, when we want to have the delights and satisfaction of sense. We should not indulge in any desire which we cannot in faith turn into prayer, as we cannot when we ask meat for our lust. What is lawful of itself becomes evil, when God does not allot it to us, yet we desire it.

Verses 10-15 The provocation was very great; yet Moses expressed himself otherwise than became him. He undervalued the honour God had put upon him. He magnified his own performances, while he had the Divine wisdom to direct him, and Almighty power to dispense rewards and punishments. He speaks distrustfully of the Divine grace. Had the work been much less he could not have gone through it in his own strength; but had it been much greater, through God strengthening him, he might have done it. Let us pray, Lord, lead us not into temptation.

Verses 16-23 Moses is to choose such as he knew to be elders, that is, wise and experienced men. God promises to qualify them. If they were not found fit for the employ, they should be made fit. Even the discontented people shall be gratified too, that every mouth may be stopped. See here, I. The vanity of all the delights of sense; they will cloy, but they will not satisfy. Spiritual pleasures alone will satisfy and last. As the world passes away, so do the lusts of it. 2. What brutish sins gluttony and drunkenness are! they make that to hurt the body which should be its health. Moses objects. Even true and great believers sometimes find it hard to trust God under the discouragements of second causes, and against hope to believe in hope. God here brings Moses to this point, The Lord God is Almighty; and puts the proof upon the issue, Thou shalt see whether my word shall come to pass or not. If he speaks, it is done.

Verses 24-30 We have here the fulfilment of God's word to Moses, that he should have help in the government of Israel. He gave of his Spirit to the seventy elders. They discoursed to the people of the things of God, so that all who heard them might say, that God was with them of a truth. Two of the elders, Eldad and Medad, went not out unto the tabernacle, as the rest, being sensible of their own weakness and unworthiness. But the Spirit of God found them in the camp, and there they exercised their gift of praying, preaching, and praising God; they spake as moved by the Holy Ghost. The Spirit of God is not confined to the tabernacle, but, like the wind, blows where He listeth. And they that humble themselves shall be exalted; and those who are most fit for government, are least ambitious of it. Joshua does not desire that they should be punished, but only restrained for the future. This motion he made out of zeal for what he thought to be the unity of the church. He would have them silenced, lest they should occasion a schism, or should rival Moses; but Moses was not afraid of any such effects from that Spirit which God had put upon them. Shall we reject those whom Christ has owned, or restrain any from doing good, because they are not in every thing of our mind? Moses wishes all the Lord's people were prophets, that he would put his Spirit upon all of them. Let the testimony of Moses be believed by those who desire to be in power; that government is a burden. It is a burden of care and trouble to those who make conscience of the duty of it; and to those who do not, it will prove a heavier burden in the day of account. Let the example of Moses be followed by those in power; let them not despise the advice and assistance of others, but desire it, and be thankful for it. If all the present number of the Lord's people were rendered prophets, or ministers, by the Spirit of Christ, though not all agreed in outward matters, there is work enough for all, in calling sinners to repentance, and faith in our Lord Jesus.

Verses 31-35 God performed his promise to the people, in giving them flesh. How much more diligent men are in collecting the meat that perishes, than in labouring for meat which endures to everlasting life! We are quick-sighted in the affairs of time; but stupidity blinds us as to the concerns of eternity. To pursue worldly advantages, we need no arguments; but when we are to secure the true riches, then we are all forgetfulness. Those who are under the power of a carnal mind, will have their lusts fulfilled, though it be to the certain damage and ruin of their precious souls. They paid dearly for their feasts. God often grants the desires of sinners in wrath, while he denies the desires of his own people in love. What we unduly desire, if we obtain it, we have reason to fear, will be some way or other a grief and cross to us. And what multitudes there are in all places, who shorten their lives by excess of one kind or other! Let us seek for those pleasures which satisfy, but never surfeit; and which will endure for evermore.

Chapter Summary


This chapter informs us of the complaints of the people of Israel, which brought the fire of the Lord upon them, and consumed many of them; and which, at the intercession of Moses, was quenched, and the place from thence called Taberah, Nu 11:1-3; and of the lusting of the mixed multitude after flesh, to increase which, they called to mind their food in Egypt; and to show their folly and ingratitude in so doing, the manna is described, Nu 11:4-9; and of the uneasiness of Moses, and his complaints of the heavy burden of the people upon him, Nu 11:10-15; and to make him easy, it is promised, that seventy of the elders of Israel should partake of his spirit, and assist in bearing the burden, Nu 11:16,17; and that the people should have flesh to serve them a whole month, Nu 11:18-20; at which last Moses expressed some degree of unbelief, Nu 11:21-23; however God fulfilled his promise with respect to both. Some of the spirit of Moses was taken and given to seventy elders, who prophesied, and two men are particularly taken notice of, who did so, Nu 11:24-30; quails in great numbers were brought by a wind to the people; but while they were eating them wrath came upon them, and they were smitten with a plague, whence the place was called Kibrothhattaavah, Nu 11:31-34; and from thence they removed to Hazeroth, Nu 11:35.

Bamidbar 11 Commentaries

The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002,2003,2008,2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International. All rights reserved.