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11. Fire and Quail from the Lord

1And the people were as murmurers, speaking evil in the ears of Jehovah: and when Jehovah heard it, his anger was kindled; and the fire of Jehovah burnt among them, and devoured in the uttermost part of the camp. 2And the people cried unto Moses; and Moses prayed unto Jehovah, and the fire abated. 3And the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of Jehovah burnt among them.

4And 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? 5We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt for nought; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: 6but now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all save this manna to look upon. 7And the manna was like coriander seed, and the appearance thereof as the appearance of bdellium. 8The 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. 9And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it. 10And Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, every man at the door of his tent: and the anger of Jehovah was kindled greatly; and Moses was displeased. 11And Moses said unto Jehovah, Wherefore hast thou dealt ill with thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favor in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? 12Have I conceived all this people? have I brought them forth, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing-father carrieth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers? 13Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat. 14I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. 15And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favor in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.

16And Jehovah said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with thee. 17And 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. 18And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to-morrow, and ye shall eat flesh; for ye have wept in the ears of Jehovah, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore Jehovah will give you flesh, and ye shall eat. 19Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days, 20but a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you; because that ye have rejected Jehovah who is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt? 21And Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month. 22Shall flocks and herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them? 23And Jehovah said unto Moses, Is Jehovah's hand waxed short? now shalt thou see whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.

24And Moses went out, and told the people the words of Jehovah: and he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the Tent. 25And Jehovah came down in the cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and put it upon the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, but they did so no more.

26But there remained two men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the Spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but had not gone out unto the Tent; and they prophesied in the camp. 27And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. 28And Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses, one of his chosen men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. 29And Moses said unto him, Art thou jealous for my sake? would that all Jehovah's people were prophets, that Jehovah would put his Spirit upon them! 30And Moses gat him into the camp, he and the elders of Israel.

31And there went forth a wind from Jehovah, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, about a day's journey on this side, and a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and about two cubits above the face of the earth. 32And the people rose up all that day, and all the night, and all the next day, and gathered the quails: he that gathered least gathered ten homers: and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp. 33While the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the anger of Jehovah was kindled against the people, and Jehovah smote the people with a very great plague. 34And the name of that place was called Kibrothhattaavah, because there they buried the people that lusted. 35From Kibrothhattaavah the people journeyed unto Hazeroth; and they abode at Hazeroth.

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5. We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt. By this comparison with the former mode of living, they depreciate the present grace of God: and yet they enumerate no delicacies, when they speak of leeks, and onions, and garlic. Some, therefore, thus explain it, When such great abundance and variety was commonly to be met with, how painful and grievous must it be to us to be deprived of greater delicacies! My own opinion is, that these lowly people, who had been used to live on humble fare, praised their accustomed food, as if they had been the greatest luxuries. Surely rustics and artisans value as much their pork and beef, their cheese and curds, their onions and cabbage, as most of the rich do their sumptuous fare. Scornfully, therefore, do the Israelites magnify things which, in themselves, are but of little value, in order the more to stimulate their depraved appetite, already sufficiently excited. Still there is no doubt but that those who had been accustomed to a diet of herbs and fish, would think themselves happy with that kind of food. Moreover, to make the matter more invidious, they say in general, that they ate gratis 1515     A. V., “freely.” Ainsworth, “for nought;” this (he adds) may be referred to the fish which they had for nought, without price, getting them out of the rivers freely; or for nought, that is, for very little, very cheap. It may also have reference to the former, We remember for nought, i.e., in vain; so the Hebrew Chinnam, and the Greek δωρεὰν, sometimes signifieth a thing done or spoken in vain, and without effect; as Proverbs 1:17; Ezekiel 6:10; Galatians 2:21.” Geneva Version, “for nought, i.e., for a small price, or good cheep.” of that, which cost them but little: although such a phrase is common in all languages. For even profane writers testify that all that sea-shore abounds with fish. 1616     Herod., 2:93, describes the abundance of the fish in Egypt, and their migrations for the deposition of their spawn: and states that the inhabitants of the marshes, some of them, “live on nothing but fish.” — Ibid. 92. The fisheries of the Nile also are very productive, and a part: of the wealth of Egypt: whilst the country is so well watered, that it produces abundance of vegetables and fruits. 1717     Raphelius has a striking note on this passage from Herod. “The herbs (onions and garlic) were ordinarily given to laborers in Egypt. Whence also this was the food of the Israelites, whose labors the Egyptians used, or rather abused, in making bricks. Herod. 2:125. “It is declared by certain Egyptian inscriptions on the Pyramid itself, how much was paid to the workmen, ἔς τε συρμαίην, καὶ κρόμμυα καὶ σκόροδα, for radishes, onions, and garlic.” — Raphel., in loco.




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