1. And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.
1. Et fuit populus quasi fatiscentes, displicuit in auribus Jehovae. Audivit enim Jehova, et iratus est furor ejus, exarsitque ignis ipsius contra eos, consumpsitque extremum castrorum.
2. And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the Lord, the fire was quenched.
2. Tunc clamavit populus ad Mosen, et oravit Moses Jehovam, et concidit ignis.
3. And he called the name of the place Taberah; because the fire of the Lord burnt among them.
3. Vocavitque nomen illius loci Taberah: quia accensus fuerat in eos ignis Jehovae.
4. And the mixed 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?
4. Et collectio quae erat in medio ejus, concupiverunt concupiscentia, et aversi sunt: quinetiam fleverunt filii Israel, dicentes, Quis pascet nos carnibus?
5. We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic:
5. Recordamur piscium quos comedebamus in AEgypto gratis, cucumerum, et peponum, et porrorum, et ceparum et alliorum.
6. But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
6. At nunc anima nostra arida est, nec quicquam est nisi man in oculis nostris.
7. And the manna was as coriander seed, and the color thereof as the color of bdellium.
7. Man autem sicut coriandri semen erat, et color ejus sicut color bdellii.
8. And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.
8. Diffundebant autem se populus, et colligebant, et molebant in mola aut terebant in mortario, coquebantque in olla, faciebantque ex eo placentas, quarum sapor erat sicut sapor recentis olei:
9. And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.
9. Quum vero descenderat ros super castra, descendebat man super ipsum.
10. Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly; Moses was also displeased.
10. Audivit itaque Moses populum flentem per familias: quemque ad ostium tabernaculi sui: unde iratus est furor Jehovae valde, ipsi quoque Mosi displicuit.
11. And Moses said unto the Lord, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favor in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?
11. Et dixit Moses ad Jehovam, Ut quid malefecisti servo tuo? et quare non inveni gratiam in oculis tuis, ut imponeres onus universi populi hujus super me?
12. Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom (as a nursing-father beareth the sucking child) unto the land which thou sworest unto their fathers?
12. An ego concepi universum populum istum? et an ego genui eum, quod dicis mihi, Porta eum in sinu tuo, quemadmodum ferre solet nutritius infantem, in terram de qua jurasti patribus ejus?
13. Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat.
13. Unde mihi caro ut dem universo populo huic? Flent enim adversum me, dicendo, Da nobis carnes, ut comedamus.
14. I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.
14. Non possem ego solus ferre universum populum hunc: quia supra vires meas est.
15. And 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.
15. Quod si ita tu facis mihi, occide me quaeso occidendo, si inveni gratiam in oculis tuis, et ne videam malum meum.
16. And the Lord 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 tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.
16. Tunc dixit Jehova ad Mosen, Congrega mihi septuaginta viros e senioribus conventionis, ut adstent ibi tecum.
17. 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.
17. Tunc descendam, et loquar tecum ibi, et separabo de spiritu qui est in te, et ponam in eis: ut sustineant tecum onus populi: et non sustineas tu solus.
18. And say thou unto the people, 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.
18. Ad populum autem dices, Sanctificamini in crastinum, et comedetis carnes: flevistis enim in auribus Jehovae, dicendo, Quiscomedere faciet nos carnes? certe melius erat nobis in AEgypto: dedit enim Jehova vobis carnes, et comedetis.
19. Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days:
19. Non una die comedetis, neque duobus diebus, neque quinque diebus, neque decem diebus, neque viginti diebus tantum:
20. 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?
20. Sed usque ad mensem dierum, donec egrediatur e naribus vestris, et sit vobis in abominationem: propterea quod contempsistis Jehovam, qui est in medio vestri, et flevistis coram eo, dicendo, Ut quid egressi sumus ex AEgypto?
21. And 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.
21. Et dixit Moses, Sexcentorum millium peditum est populus in cujus medio ego sum: et tu dicis, Carnem dabo eis: et comedent mensem dierum.
22. Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?
22. Nunquid oves et boves ingulabuntur eis, et sufficient illis? an omnes pisces maris congregabuntur illis, et sufficient eis?
23. And the Lord said unto Moses, Is the Lord's hand waxed short? Thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee, or not.
23. Tum dixit Jehova ad Mosen, Nunquid manus Jehovae abbreviabitur? Nunc videbis utrum eveniat tibi verbum meum, annon.
24. 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.
24. Egressus est autem Moses, et retulit ad populum verba Jehovae: congregavitque septuaginta viros e senioribus populi, quos statuit in circuitu tabernaculi.
25. And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spoke 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, red did not cease.
25. Tunc descendit Jehova in nube, et loquutus est ad eum: et seorsum accepit de Spiritu qui erat super eum, posuitque super septuaginta viros seniores: et fuit ut requiescente in eis Spiritu prophetaverint: et non addiderunt.
26. But there remained two of the 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 went not out unto the tabernacle,) and they prophesied in the camp.
26. Remanserunt autem duo viri in castris, nomen unius Eldad, et nomen alterius Medad: super quos etiam requievit Spiritus (erant vero inter scriptos, sed non egressi fuerant ad tabernaculum) et prophetare eoeperunt in castris.
27. And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.
27. Et cucurrit puer quidam, et nuntiavit Mosi, dixitque: Eldad et Medad prophetant in castris.
28. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.
28. Tunc respondit Jehosua filius Nun minister Mosis ex juvenibus ejus, et dixit, Domine mi Moses probibe eos.
29. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them!
29. Cut respondit Moses, Nunquid aemularis tu propter me? et utinam universus populus Jehovae prophetae essent! atque ut daret Jehova Spiritum suum super eos.
30. And Moses gat him into the camp, he and the elders of Israel.
30. Recepit autem se Moses ad castra, ipse et seniores Israel.
31. 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.
31. Et ventus egressus est a Jehova, adduxitque coturnices e mari, et demisit ad castra: quasi itinere diei hinc, et itinere diei illinc, per circuitum castrorum, et fere ad duos cubitos per faciem terrae.
32. 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.
32. Tunc surrexit populus toto die illo, et tota nocte, totoque die sequenti, et collegerunt sibi coturnices: qui pauciores collegit, collegit decem cumulos: et expanderunt sibi expandendo per circuitus castrorum.
33. And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kin-died against the people; and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague.
33. Caro adhuc erat inter dentes eorum antequam concisa esset: tum furor Jehovae exarsit in populum, percussitque Jehova populum plaga magna admodum.
34. And he called the name of that place Kibroth. hattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.
34. Et vocatum est nomen loci illius Cibroth-hathaavah: quia ibi sepelierunt populum concupiscentem.
35. And the people journeyed from Kibroth-hattaavah unto Hazeroth; and abode at Hazeroth.
35. De Cibroth-hathaavah profecti sunt populus in Haseroth, et substiterunt in eo loco.
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," 4 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," (Psalm 78:23-25;) 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.
"The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing."
For Scripture does not so often declare in vain that God satisfies the longing souls, and filleth the hungry with food. They complain that there is nothing before their eyes but manna: as if their loathing of this one excellent and abundant kind of food was actual famine.
The word Spirit is here, as frequently elsewhere, applied to the gifts themselves; as if He had said, I had deposited with thee gifts sufficing for the government of the people; but now, since thou refusest, I will distribute his due measure to each of the seventy, so that the grace of the Spirit, which dwelt in thee alone, shall be manifestly dispersed among many. It is now asked how Moses separated the seventy, whether according to his own judgment only, or by the election of the people. It is generally agreed that six were chosen from each tribe, and thus that they were seventy-two; but that for the sake of brevity two were omitted, as amongst the Romans, 12 they spoke of the Centumviri, although they were a hundred and five; for they appointed three for each of the thirty-five tribes. Since the opinion is probable, I leave it undecided; but at the same time I retain the conjecture which I have elsewhere made, 13 viz., that, since the race of Abraham had been increased in an incredible manner in two hundred and twenty years, lest so astonishing a miracle should ever be forgotten, the seventy were elected in accordance with the number of the fathers who had gone down into Egypt with Jacob. And, in fact, this seems to have been with them, as it were, a sacred number; as recalling to their memory that little band from which they had derived their origin. For, before the Law was promulgated, Moses was commanded to take with him seventy to accompany him to the mount, and to be eye-witnesses of God's glory. Meanwhile, I do not deny that there were two more than the number seventy; but I only point out why God fixed upon this number, viz., to equalize the leaders and heads of the people with the family of Jacob, which was the source of their race and name. In truth, from the fact that, when Hoses went up into Mount Sinai to receive the Tables from the hand of God, he took with him seventy officers, we infer that the number of those who should excel in honor, was already fixed at this, although the charge of governing, which is here spoken of, was not yet committed to them. And it is probable that these same persons who had been appointed leaders, were called to this new and unwonted office, as the words themselves imply. It is indeed certain, that when the Jews returned from the Babylonish captivity, because they were not permitted to appoint a king, they followed the example here set them in the establishment of their Sanhedrim; only this honor was paid to the memory of David and their rings, that from their race they chose their seventy rulers in whom the supreme power was vested. And this form of government continued down to Herod, 14 who abolished the whole council by which he had been condemned, and destroyed the lives of them all. Still, I think that he was not impelled to commit the massacre only out of vengeance, but also lest the dignity of the royal race should be an obstacle to his tyranny.
It must, however, be observed that, although God promises new grace to the seventy men, he would not have them taken indiscriminately from the people in general, but expressly commands them to be chosen from the order of the elders, and heads of the people, being such as were already possessed of authority, and had given proofs of their diligence and virtue. Thus, also, now-a-days, when he calls both the pastors of the Church and magistrates to their office, although He furnishes them with new gifts, still He would not have them raised to their honorable stations promiscuously as they may come first, but chooses rather with reference to their spiritual endowments, wherewith He distinguishes, and commends those whom He has destined to any exalted office. In short, He commands the most fitting to be chosen; but, after they have been elected, tie promises that He will add what is wanting. For this reason He commands that they should station themselves at the door of the tabernacle, that He may there display His grace. Although I think that two other reasons were likewise taken into consideration, viz., that they might know that the office was intrusted to them by God, and might always be mindful of the heavenly tribunal, before which they must be accountable: and also that they might be held in additional reverence by the very associations of the place, and that the people might submit to them as the ministers of God. Now, although God does not at present dwell in a visible tabernacle, yet are we reminded by this example that pastors and magistrates are not duly ordained, unless they are placed in the presence of God; nor rightly inaugurated in their offices, unless when they consecrate themselves to God Himself, and when His majesty, on the other hand, acquires their reverence. Cyprian 15 twists this passage further, but I know not whether on sufficiently firm grounds, to prove that bishops are not to be elected, except with the consent of the whole people.
Although the narrative does not expressly state that he spoke to them respecting the flesh, it declares in general terms that he omitted nothing; and, indeed, it would have been very inappropriate to speak only of the Seventy Elders, when the origin of all the evil had been the craving for flesh. Briefly stating, then, that he had reported the commands of God to the people, he includes both parts of the matter, the second of which he then follows up. And, first, he says that the elders were called to the Tabernacle, that they might there be appointed rulers and officers. When be states that they were "set round about," I do not interpret the words so precisely as to suppose that eighteen were ranged on each side, and, of the rest, half were placed before the court, and half behind the Tabernacle; but that they were so arranged, as to surround some part of the Tabernacle. Now, this was equivalent to their being set before God, so that they might hereafter exercise their office with more authority, as being sent by Him; and at the same time that they might devote themselves to God, and dedicate themselves to His service; and also, that being invested with the necessary endowments, they might bear the tokens of their calling. For this reason, it is soon afterwards added, that enough of the spirit of Moses was given them for the discharge of their official duties; for, although Moses by God's command had chosen men of approved virtue and experience, yet He would have them prepared anew, in order that their call might be effectual. When they are said to have "prophesied," this was a visible sign of the gift of the Spirit, which, nevertheless, had reference to a different object; for they were not appointed to be. prophets, though God would testify by this outward mark that they were new men, in order that the people might receive them with greater reverence. In my opinion, however, prophecy here is equivalent to a special faculty of discoursing magnificently of secret things or mysteries. We know that poets were called prophets by profane writers, 21 because poetry itself savors of inspiration (
"according to the measure of the gift of Christ."
"He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven; and by his power he brought in the south wind," (Psalm 78:26,)
in which words He signifies that the whole air was shaken, since the winds suddenly arose from different quarters, which covered the earth in all directions with an immense multitude of the birds.
When he says that the earth was filled "as it were a day's journey," I do not understand it as if the dead birds lay at so great a distance, but that they occupied such a space of ground in thick heaps, and, in fact, continuously. And this also we gather from the Psalm, where the Prophet says, that they fell "in the midst of their camp," and were carried to their tents round about. (Psalm 78:28.) What is added, as to their being "two cubits high," I do not interpret, as some do, 26 that they did not fly above two cubits from the ground, so as to be more easily taken with the hand; but that there was such a mass of them, that every one might carry away as much as he would. For to this also do those magnificent descriptions in the Psalm relate, whereby the miracle is extolled:
"He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and leathered fowls, like as the sand of the sea." (Psalm 78:27.)
But how "they spread them abroad -- round about," 27 is not very clear to me; unless, perhaps, they were placed in cages or coops, and daily taken out for food.
1 Lat., "And the people was, as it were, fainting (fatiscentes,) if, was displeasing in the ears of Jehovah." Fr. "Apres il adveint que le peuple fut comme gens discouragez, (margin, despitez,) ce que despleut aux aureilles de l'Eternel;" afterwards it came to pass that the people were as persons discouraged (or fretted) which displeased the ears of God.
3 Lat., "fuisse demersum." A.V. "quenched." Margin, "Heb. sunk." "
4 See Margin A.V.
5 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
6 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.
7 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,
10 Thus, De Lyra; "It is not to be understood that anything was taken away from Moses and given to the others, but they were illuminated without any- diminution of the grace of Moses; thus, by the light of one candle others are lighted, without any diminution of its own light." Ainsworth thus traces the gloss of De Lyra to its source: "Neither was Moses' spirit hereby diminished; for as Sol. Jarchi says, 'Moses in that hour was like unto the lamp that was left (burning) in the candlestick (in the Sanctuary) from which all the other lamps were lighted, yet the light thereof was not lessened any whit.'" So also St. Augustine, "We understand that God would signify nothing more than that they also would have assistance from the same Spirit of grace, as Moses had; that they also should have as much as God pleased, not that Moses would therefore have less. Quest. in Numbers 18. Edit. Bened., tom. 3. P. 1. p. 535. C., indeed, here, seems to have but few followers. The gloss in the Geneva version is; "I will distribute my Spirit among them, as I have done to thee;" and Attersoll says, "It it true he doth sometimes punish in this manner, sometimes by lessening, and sometimes by taking away, what he had formerly bestowed. Zechariah 11:17; Matthew 25:27. But we do not read or find that he dealt so with Moses, or that he was less fit for government than he was before," etc.
11 A. V., "I will take;" or "will separate." -- Ainsworth.
12 "Centumviri were judges chosen from the thirty-five tribes, three from each, so that properly there were 105, but they were always named by a round number, Centumviri. Eestus." -- Adam's Rom. Antiq.
14 Josephus, Antiq., 14:9. Section 4.
15 "Wherefore a people which obeyeth the precepts of the Lord, and feareth God, ought to separate itself from a Prelate who is a sinner, nor mingle itself up with the sacrifices of a sacrilegious priest, especially since it has itself the power either of choosing worthy priests, or rejecting the unworthy. This, too, we see to be derived from divine authority, that a priest should be chosen in presence of the people, in sight of all, and be approved worthy and fit by public sentence and testimony; as in Numbers, the Lord commanded Moses, saying, Take Aaron thy brother, and Eleazar his son, and bring them up into the mount, before all the congregation: and strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son, and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there. (Numbers 20:25, 26.) God commands a priest to be appointed before all the congregation, that is, He instructs and shows us, that the ordinations of priests ought only to be solemnized with the knowledge of the people standing by, that so by their presence either the crimes of the wicked may be detected, or the merits of the good proclaimed, and so the ordination be right and lawful, as having been examined with the suffrage and judgment of all." -- Epistles of S. Cyprian. Oxford Transl. 1844, pp. 211, 212.
The above quotation is from a letter written in the names of Cyprian and thirty-six of his brethren, as a reply to inquiries made by the presbyter and people of Leon and Astorga, and the deacons and faithful people in Merida. Cyprian has not cited Numbers 11:16, in any of the works now acknowledged as his, though the argument thus drawn from Numbers 20:25, 28, would have been more reasonably collected from the text, to which Calvin has assumed that he referred.
18 Que la le Sainct Esprit deteste leur gourmandise desbordee;" that there the Holy Spirit marks His detestation of their unbridled gluttony. -- Fr.
19 That is, the V. "Numquid manus Domini invalida est?"
20 In this C. follows the LXX.
21 Vates is a name commonly applied by classical writers to poets. "Quare sue jure noster ille Ennius sanctos appellat poetas, quod quasi deorum aliquo dono, atque munere commendati nobis videantur." -- Cicero pro Archia Poeta, 8. "De versibus, quos tibi a me scribi vis, deest mihi quidem opera, quae non modo tempus, sed etiam animum vacuum ab omni cura desiderat; sed abest etiam
22 Fr. "La grace de parler authentiquement de choses hautes;" the grace to speak authentically of high things.
23 "These words are commonly rendered, 'and did not cease (to prophesy,)' as in our public version; or 'and did not add,' as they are rendered by Ainsworth and Purver, neither of which renderings is to me intelligible. By adopting the Sam. reading with Houbigant, Dathe, and Rosenmiiller, and placing
24 The Fr. applies this sentence to the elders, "ils ont cesse de prophetizer;" they ceased to prophesy.
26 So the V., "Volabantque in aere duobus cubitis altitudine super terram." "Sol. Jarchi saith, They flew so high as a man's heart, that he was not toiled in getting them, either by reaching high, or by stooping low." -- Ainsworth in loco. Kitto, Illustr. Com. in loco, prefers this view.
27 "We are disposed to conclude with Calmer (in his note on this place) that the Hebrews salted their quails before they dried them. We have here, then, the earliest indication of processes, the benefits resulting from which have become so diffused and familiar, that it costs an effort of recollection to recognize them as benefits. Yet many centuries have not elapsed since the Emperor Charles V. thought it became him to erect a statue to the man (G. Bukel) who found the secret of salting and barrelling herrings." -- Illustr. Com. in loco.