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Numbers 11:28

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

My lord Moses, forbid them -

How often have I blindly done

What zealous Joshua did,

Impatient to the rulers run,

And cried, "My lords, forbid!

Silence the schismatics, constrain

Their thoughts with ours t' agree,

And sacrifice the souls of men

To idol unity!"

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 4-35

Occurrences at Kibroth-hattavah.

Numbers 11:4

The mixt multitude - The word in the original resembles our “riff-raff,” and denotes a mob of people scraped together. It refers here to the multitude of strangers (see Exodus 12:38) who had followed the Israelites from Egypt.

Numbers 11:5

The natural dainties of Egypt are set forth in this passage with the fullness and relish which bespeak personal experience.

Numbers 11:6-7

There is nothing at all … - literally, “Nought at all have we except that our eyes are unto this manna;” i. e. “Nought else have we to expect beside this manna.” On the manna see Exodus 16:15 note; on bdellium see Genesis 2:12 note.

Numbers 11:10

The weeping was general; every family wept (compare Zechariah 12:12), and in a manner public and unconcealed.

Numbers 11:11-15

The complaint and remonstrance of Moses may be compared with that in 1 Kings 19:4 ff; Jonah 4:1-3, and contrasted with the language of Abraham (Genesis 18:23 ff) The meekness of Moses (compare Numbers 12:3) sank under vexation into despair. His language shows us how imperfect and prone to degeneracy are the best saints on earth.

Numbers 11:16

Seventy men of the elders of Israel - Seventy elders had also gone up with Moses to the Lord in the mount Exodus 24:1, Exodus 24:9. Seventy is accordingly the number of colleagues assigned to Moses to share his burden with him. To it, the Jews trace the origin of the Sanhedrim. Subsequent notices Numbers 16:25; Joshua 7:6; Joshua 8:10, Joshua 8:33; Joshua 9:11; Joshua 23:2; Joshua 24:1, Joshua 24:31 so connect the elders with the government of Israel as to point to the fact that the appointment now made was not a merely temporary one, though it would seem to have soon fallen into desuetude. We find no traces of it in the days of the Judges and the Kings.

Elders of the people, and officers over them - In English idiom, “elders and officers of the people.” Both elders and officers appear in Egypt (Exodus 3:16; Exodus 5:6 ff): the former had headed the nation in its efforts after freedom; the latter were the subordinate, though unwilling, agents of Egyptian tyranny. The two classes no doubt were working together; and from those who belonged to either, perhaps from those who were both eiders and officers, the council of Seventy was to be selected.

Numbers 11:17

I will take of the spirit which is upon thee - Render rather separate from the spirit, etc.; i. e. they shall have their portion in the same divine gift which thou hast.

Numbers 11:25

They prophesied - i. e. under the extraordinary impulse of the Holy Spirit they uttered forth the praises of God, or declared His will. Compare the marginal references.

And did not cease - Rather, and added not, i. e. they prophesied at this time only and not afterward. The sign was granted on the occasion of their appointment to accredit them in their office; it was not continued, because their proper function was to be that of governing not prophesying.

Numbers 11:26

Of them that were written - i. e. enrolled among the Seventy. The expression points to a regular appointment duly recorded and permanent.

Numbers 11:29

Enviest thou for my sake? - (Compare Mark 9:38 ff) The other members of the Seventy had been with Moses (compare Numbers 6:16, Numbers 6:24-25) when the gift of prophecy was bestowed on them. They received “of the spirit that was upon him,” and exercised their office visibly through and for him. Eldad and Medad prophesying in the camp seemed to Joshua to be acting independently, and so establishing a separate center of authority.

Numbers 11:31

The southeast wind, which blew from the neighboring Elanitic gulf of the Red Sea, brought the quails Exodus 16:13.

Two cubits high - Better, “two cubits above the face of the ground:” i. e. the quails, wearied with their long flight, flew about breast high, and were easily secured by the people, who spread them all abroad for themselves Numbers 11:32, in order to salt and dry them. The quail habitually flies with the wind, and low.

Numbers 11:32

Ten homers - About 55 bushels. Compare Leviticus 27:16.

Numbers 11:33

Ere it was chewed - Better, ere it was consumed. See Numbers 11:19-20. The surfeit in which the people indulged, as described in Numbers 11:32, disposed them to sickness. God‘s wrath, visiting the gluttonous through their gluttony, aggravated natural consequences into a supernatural visitation.

Numbers 11:34, Numbers 11:35

(Kibroth-hattaavah has been identified by Palmer with the extensive remains, graves, etc., at Erweis El Ebeirig, and Hazeroth “enclosures” with Ain Hadherah.)

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
Counsels on Diet and Foods, 378

Had they been willing to deny appetite in obedience to His restrictions, feebleness and disease would have been unknown among them. Their descendants would have possessed physical and mental strength. They would have had clear perceptions of truth and duty, keen discrimination, and sound judgment. But they were unwilling to submit to God's requirements, and they failed to reach the standard He had set for them, and to receive the blessings that might have been theirs. They murmured at God's restrictions, and lusted after the fleshpots of Egypt. God let them have flesh, but it proved a curse to them.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 118, 119, 1890 CD 378.1

645. “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”—1 Corinthians 10:6, 11 CD 378.2

646. The church in general at Battle Creek have not sustained the Institute by their example. They have not honored the light of health reform by carrying it out in their families. The sickness that has visited many families in Battle Creek need not have been, if they had followed the light God has given them. Like ancient Israel, they have disregarded the light, and could see no more necessity of restricting their appetite than did ancient Israel. The children of Israel would have flesh meats, and said, as many now say, We shall die without meat. God gave rebellious Israel flesh, but His curse was with it. Thousands of them died while the meat they desired was between their teeth. We have the example of ancient Israel, and the warning for us not to do as they did. Their history of unbelief and rebellion is left on record as a special warning that we should not follow their example of murmuring at God's requirements. How can we pass on so indifferently, choosing our own course, following the sight of our own eyes, and departing farther and farther from God, as did the Hebrews? God cannot do great things for His people because of their hardness of heart and sinful unbelief. CD 378.3

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Ellen G. White
Counsels on Diet and Foods, 406

We are health reformers, seeking to come back, as far as possible, to the Lord's original plan of temperance. Temperance does not consist merely in abstaining from intoxicating liquors and tobacco; it extends farther than this. It must regulate what we eat. CD 406.1

You are all acquainted with the light upon the subject of health reform. But when I visit the Retreat, I see that there is a very marked departure from health reform on the matter of meat eating, and I am convinced that there must be a change, and at once. Your diet is largely composed of meat. God is not leading in this direction; the enemy is seeking to establish the diet question upon a wrong basis by leading those in charge of the institution to accommodate the diet to the appetite of the patients. CD 406.2

When the Lord led the children of Israel from Egypt, He purposed to establish them in Canaan a pure, happy, healthy people. Let us study the plan of God, and see how this was accomplished. He restricted their diet. To a large degree, He took flesh food from them. But they hankered after the fleshpots of Egypt, and God gave them flesh, and with it the sure result. CD 406.3

The Health Retreat was established at a great cost to treat the sick without drugs. It should be conducted on hygienic principles. Drug medication should be worked away from as fast as possible, until entirely discarded. Education should be given on proper diet, dress, and exercise. Not only should our own people be educated, but those who have not received the light upon health reform should be taught how to live healthfully, according to God's order. But if we have no standard in this respect ourselves, what is the need of going to such large expense to establish a health institute? Where does the reform come in? CD 406.4

I cannot admit that we are moving in God's order. We must have a different order of things, or give up the name Health Retreat; for it is wholly inappropriate. The Lord has shown me that the Health Institute must not be molded to meet the appetite or any person's ideas. I am aware that the excuse for the meat eating allowed in the institution has been that the pleasure seekers who come are not pleased with any other diet. Then let them go where they can obtain the diet they wish. When the institution cannot be conducted, even for guests, according to right principles, then let it drop the name it has assumed. But the excuse that has been urged does not now exist; for outside patronage is very small. CD 406.5

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 380-2

The Lord hearkened to his prayer, and directed him to summon seventy men of the elders of Israel—men not only advanced in years, but possessing dignity, sound judgment, and experience. “And bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation,” He said, “that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.” PP 380.1

The Lord permitted Moses to choose for himself the most faithful and efficient men to share the responsibility with him. Their influence would assist in holding in check the violence of the people, and quelling insurrection; yet serious evils would eventually result from their promotion. They would never have been chosen had Moses manifested faith corresponding to the evidences he had witnessed of God's power and goodness. But he had magnified his own burdens and services, almost losing sight of the fact that he was only the instrument by which God had wrought. He was not excusable in indulging, in the slightest degree, the spirit of murmuring that was the curse of Israel. Had he relied fully upon God, the Lord would have guided him continually and would have given him strength for every emergency. PP 380.2

Moses was directed to prepare the people for what God was about to do for them. “Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the Lord, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the Lord will give you flesh, and ye shall eat. Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; but even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the Lord which is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?” PP 380.3

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, 17

Moses himself showed a manifest distrust of the power of God, for which the Lord rebuked him. By this question of the Lord to Moses, he was made to understand that nothing was impossible with the great Ruler of the universe. He reproved Moses for his forgetfulness of his miracles. He who could divide the Red Sea, and bind the waters that they were like a wall on either side of Israel, as they passed through on dry land, and could rain them bread from Heaven, and bring them water out of the flinty rock, could provide meat to supply the host of Israel. 4aSG 17.1

“And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the Lord, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. 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.” This prophetic gift rested upon the judges and elders to establish the confidence of the people in them, and to be a sign that God had chosen them to unite their authority with Moses, and assist him in the work of subduing the murmurings of the people during their sojourn in the wilderness, and thus ease the task upon Moses. 4aSG 17.2

“And there went forth a wind from the Lord, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day's journey on this side, and as it were a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and, as it were, two cubits high upon the face of the earth. And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails. He that gathered least gathered ten homers, and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp. And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague.” 4aSG 17.3

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 377-82

At the signal from the trumpeters, however, the entire camp set forward, the tabernacle borne in the midst, and each tribe in its appointed position, under its own standard. All eyes were turned anxiously to see in what direction the cloud would lead. As it moved toward the east, where were only mountain masses huddled together, black and desolate, a feeling of sadness and doubt arose in many hearts. PP 377.1

As they advanced, the way became more difficult. Their route lay through stony ravine and barren waste. All around them was the great wilderness—“a land of deserts and of pits,” “a land of drought, and of the shadow of death,” “a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt.” Jeremiah 2:6. The rocky gorges, far and near, were thronged with men, women, and children, with beasts and wagons, and long lines of flocks and herds. Their progress was necessarily slow and toilsome; and the multitudes, after their long encampment, were not prepared to endure the perils and discomforts of the way. PP 377.2

After three days’ journey open complaints were heard. These originated with the mixed multitude, many of whom were not fully united with Israel, and were continually watching for some cause of censure. The complainers were not pleased with the direction of the march, and they were continually finding fault with the way in which Moses was leading them, though they well knew that he, as well as they, was following the guiding cloud. Dissatisfaction is contagious, and it soon spread in the encampment. PP 377.3

Again they began to clamor for flesh to eat. Though abundantly supplied with manna, they were not satisfied. The Israelites, during their bondage in Egypt, had been compelled to subsist on the plainest and simplest food; but then keen appetite induced by privation and hard labor had made it palatable. Many of the Egyptians, however, who were now among them, had been accustomed to a luxurious diet; and these were the first to complain. At the giving of the manna, just before Israel reached Sinai, the Lord had granted them flesh in answer to their clamors; but it was furnished them for only one day. PP 377.4

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The Route of the Exodus