Fire From the Lord
1 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. 2 When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. 3 So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them.
The people murmured and complained about the hardships of being in the wilderness, and the Lord heard them and became angered with them. Murmuring and complaining was evil in Gods ears, so the Lord sends fire down from heaven, it consumes the outer parts of the camp along with the people dwelling there.
It is unclear as to what the complaining was about and as too when the place and time this happens, however scholars believe that it is around the third days trek through the dessert.
It is important to note the severity and extent of Gods divine judgments inflicted on those who do not follow God’s Law. When the people cry out to Moses, he prays to God and the fire dies down. So from that day forward, that place is known as Taberah which means “a place of burning”.
1 Corinthians 10:1-13 (NIV)
Warnings From Israel’s History
1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Hebrews 2:1-4 (NIV)
Warning to Pay Attention
1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Quail From the Lord
4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
7 The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. 8 The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. 9 When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.
A “Rabble” is; an angry group of noisy youths, a disorderly crowd, rift raft, or a mixed multitude of people.It was thought that this was a group of the children of the people that followed the Israelites out from Egypt.It was believed that these people were half breeds of Israelite women and Egyptian fathers or rift-raft (other slaves) which followed along with the Israelites out from Egypt.
The rabble or mixed multitude (KJ) rose up along with the Israelites, and began wailing aloud saying “If only we had meat to eat! Remember the fish we ate and all the fruit and vegetables, now all we see and eat is manna!” The manna was what God had provided for them to eat everyday, and was like coriander seeds, which when ground up was baked into bread like loaves and tasted like something made with olive oil.(see Ex 16)
10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”
Moses heard the peoples wailing, and so did the Lord. Moses was worried that the complaining would stir up God’s anger again, and he was right, the Lord became extremely angry!
Moses was displeased with the people on account of their murmurings, and he was oppressed with the heavy burden of responsibility to which he felt himself unworthy in his leadership over them.
The murmurings of the people was in no doubt directed towards Moses and God. Moses felt the anger projected at him, and became angry himself, and questioned God about it. Moses didn’t ask for this responsibility of taking care of these ungrateful people and basically put the blame on God. Moses has sinned against God because he failed to restrain his temper. Moses then says “ if this is how you are going to treat me, then please go ahead and kill me, if I have found favor in your eyes- let me not see the total failure of my hopes and efforts.” Moses realizes his distressing situation, and would rather die than have a mighty multitude of unhappy people under his care, with no means of satisfying their insistent demands. Their conduct shows how deeply they had been demoralized by oppression from their Egypt masters, yet his actions reveals his state of mind having to agonize over his responsibilities of his office.
16 The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.
The Lord hears Moses plea, and understand his heart’s cry, and says to him “bring me 70 of Israel’s elders who are known leaders and officials from among the people! Have them come to the tent of meeting, and I will take some of the Spirits power that is on you and put it on them. Then they will share the burden of the people, so you don’t have to do it alone!”
18 “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”
The Lord says to Moses: “tell all the people to consecrate or purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. The Lord heard all the people murmuring and complaining about the lack of meat and is now going to provide meat for them.” Then the Lord says: not only will I provide meat, and you will eat it, but I will provide enough meat continuously for a whole month, that you will have eaten so much- that it will come out your nostrils and then you will loathe it, because you have rejected the Lord and complained loudly about it.
21 But Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ 22 Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?”
23 The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”
Moses still not recovered from his ill temper, spoke from the misery that is still in his heart and says: “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?”
Then the Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”
24 So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied—but did not do so again.
Moses did as the Lord instructed and brought the 70 elders to the tent of meetings. Then the Lord came down in the cloud, spoke with Moses and took of some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it to the 70 elders. When the Spirit rested on them they prophesied. The meaning of prophesied here is not the type of prophesy which brings forth the telling of future events, things to come, but the type where they spoke in another tongues, (like in Acts 2:4) and it was a one time deal. This was to show signs and wonders, so that the people would know that the Spirit was upon them, just as He was upon Moses.
Acts 2:4 (NIV)
4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Interesting to note; the King James says in verse 25 “they prophesied, and did not cease”. This should have been rendered “did not add or repeat.” The New King James and many others render it as “they prophesied, but they did not do so again.”
26 However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”
28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”
29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” 30 Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.
Meanwhile two of the 70 elders remained in the camp and did not go to the tent with Moses. Scripture is unclear as to why they remained behind, it is thought that perhaps they, being elders, had something pressing to take care of… who knows. However God being all knowing still had the Spirit come upon them while in the camp, and they as well prophesied.
A young man witnesses this event, thinking that this was a bad thing, runs to Moses telling him about this, then Joshua son of Nun who was an aide to Moses, tells Moses to stop it from happening. Joshua probably thought that those two men, since they weren’t with the others, were rebellious or trying take some authority away from Moses.
Moses says to Joshua, “are you jealous for my sake”. I wish that all the Lords people were prophets and that the Lord will put His Spirit on them. Little does Moses know, but that’s exactly what God has done for us who believe in Him! Amen!
Then Moses and the elders return to the camp.
31 Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food.
35 From Kibroth Hattaavah the people traveled to Hazeroth and stayed there.
God causes a wind to blow all the quail from the sea area to the Israelites camp. The wind caused enough quail to fall upon the ground to measure two cubits deep which is about 3 feet thick, and about a days walk in any direction.
These quail were still alive, but probably extremely tired from fighting the wind that brought them to the camp site. Remember it was against the law to go near or touch a dead animal, so they were all still alive. All day and all night the Israelites gathered the quail, and no-one gathered less then ten homers, which is about 1 3/4 tons of quail. All day and all night shows us just how greedy and eager to supply themselves with abundance of animal food. They were literally so afraid of loosing any of the birds that they stayed up all day and night, in order to collect them all. Keep in mind there were more than half a million people gathering all day and all night.
They all gathered much more than was needed, that they spread them out all around the camp, this shows us that they started to dry them out in the sun, as the Egyptians used to do with the fish, and preserve them for future use. Flesh cured this way does not need salt, which the Israelites would not have much of.
God seeing their greed and gluttony , being angered once again while the Israelites were still chewing on the meat, before it could be consumed, he struck them with a severe plague.
Scripture is unclear as to who or how many were stricken down with this plague, but it was severe enough to call that place Kibroth Hazeroth which means “graves of cravings.” Moses and the Israelites left that place and went to Hazeroth and stayed there.