The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Numbers 11

Num 11:1

13 murmurings: Exo 5:21; 14:10; 15:24; 16:2; 17:2; 32:1; Num 11:1,4; 12:2; 14:2; 16:3; 20:2; 21:5. Cp Joh 6:41-43. Those who murmur without cause are soon given cause to murmur.

Num 11:4

13 murmurings: Exo 5:21; 14:10; 15:24; 16:2; 17:2; 32:1; Num 11:1,4; 12:2; 14:2; 16:3; 20:2; 21:5. Cp Joh 6:41-43. Those who murmur without cause are soon given cause to murmur.

THE RABBLE: Those who belong to Israel are not all truly "Israel" (Rom 9:6). They are a mixed group, some belonging to their "father" the "devil", some of Esau, Ishmael...

Num 11:5

The fruits of Egypt -- the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic desired by Israel -- grow in the ground. But the fruits of Canaan -- dates, figs, olives, and grapes -- grow above the ground, in the air, and one must reach UP in order to obtain them (v 9).

The total number of products of Egypt number 6 here -- sym man -- whereas the total number of products of the Promised Land (Deu 8:8) are 7 -- the number of perfection and completion and covenant.

Num 11:7

RESIN: Aromatic gum, impl healing qualities. As the healing properties of Christ the true "manna".

Num 11:9

His compassions, new every morning: Lam 3:23. Cp Exo 16:15,35. Like Christ, the food appeared to come from the earth, but in reality came down from heaven!

Num 11:11

WHY HAVE YOU BROUGHT THIS TROUBLE ON YOUR SERVANT?: "Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to try our faith. If our faith be worth anything, it will stand the test. Gilt is afraid of fire, but gold is not [1Pe 1:7]: the paste gem dreads to be touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test. It is a poor faith which can only trust God when friends are true, the body full of health, and the business profitable; but that is true faith which holds by the Lord's faithfulness when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father's countenance is hidden. A faith which can say, in the direst trouble, 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him' [Job 13:15], is heaven-born faith. The Lord afflicts His servants to glorify Himself, for He is greatly glorified in the graces of His people, which are His own handiwork. When 'tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope' [Rom 5:3,4], the Lord is honoured by these growing virtues. We should never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched; nor enjoy the juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the winepress; nor discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten; nor feel the warmth of fire if the coals were not utterly consumed. The wisdom and power of the great Workman are discovered by the trials through which His vessels of mercy are permitted to pass. Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy. There must be shades in the picture to bring out the beauty of the lights" (CHS).

Num 11:14

Moses cannot bear all the people, but Christ can (Heb 1:3)!

Num 11:23

"God had made a positive promise to Moses that for the space of a whole month He would feed the vast host in the wilderness with flesh. Moses, being overtaken by a fit of unbelief, looks to the outward means, and is at a loss to know how the promise can be fulfilled. He looked to the creature instead of the Creator. But doth the Creator expect the creature to fulfil His promise for Him? No; He who makes the promise ever fulfils it by His own unaided omnipotence. If He speaks, it is done -- done by Himself. His promises do not depend for their fulfillment upon the cooperation of the puny strength of man. We can at once perceive the mistake which Moses made. And yet how commonly we do the same! God has promised to supply our needs, and we look to the creature to do what God has promised to do; and then, because we perceive the creature to be weak and feeble, we indulge in unbelief. Why look we to that quarter at all? Will you look to the north pole to gather fruits ripened in the sun? Verily, you would act no more foolishly if ye did this than when you look to the weak for strength, and to the creature to do the Creator's work. Let us, then, put the question on the right footing. The ground of faith is not the sufficiency of the visible means for the performance of the promise, but the all-sufficiency of the invisible God, who will most surely do as He hath said. If after clearly seeing that the onus lies with the Lord and not with the creature, we dare to indulge in mistrust, the question of God comes home mightily to us: 'Has the Lord's hand waxed short?' May it happen, too, in His mercy, that with the question there may flash upon our souls that blessed declaration, 'Thou shalt see now whether My word shall come to pass unto thee or not' " (CHS).

Num 11:24

As Jesus selected his assistants, and placed them around his "tent" (Mat 10:1...).

Num 11:26

ELDAD: "Ail dowd" = "Beloved (ie David) of El".

MEDAD: "Beloved".

Num 11:29

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!": It was as if he said, 'Do you think that I alone am the channel through which the Divine influences can pour? Do you suppose that the supplies in the being of God are so meager that He must stint what He gives through me, when He gives to others? If it should please Him to create new stars, must He rob the sun of its light to give them brilliance? Is the gratification of vanity of any interest to me, who have gazed on the face of God? Besides, what am I, or what is my position among this people compared with the benefit which would be theirs and the glory which would redound to God if He did for each of them all that He has done for me?"

This is the spirit of true magnanimity, a noble humility. A spirit of self-aggrandizement is set on retaining its exclusive position as the sole depository of the Divine blessing. But whenever the eye is single for the glory of God and position is looked upon only as His gift to be used for His glory, that glory extinguishes the fires of ambition and the faithful servant is willing to be anything or nothing if only the Divine purpose is accomplished.

There is no test more searching than this. Am I as eager for God's kingdom to come through others as through myself? In my private intercessions can I pray as heartily and earnestly for the success of my 'competitors' as for my own? Can I see with equanimity other and younger men coming to the front and showing themselves possessed of gifts that I always considered to by my special province? Am I willing that the will of God should be done through another if he suited God's purpose more than I? Few of us could answer these questions without the sense of great difficulty in assuming the position taken up by Moses when he heard that Eldad and Medad prophesied in the camp.

Num 11:31

THREE FEET ABOVE THE GROUND: The level of their flight was only 3 ft above the ground, so that they could be easily captured (Str Scr 28).

Num 11:32

Manna (God's word) lasted 40 years (and more, in the Ark!), but the quail (sym flesh) lasted 2 days, brought death.

Num 11:35

An oasis of water and grass after their wilderness wanderings.

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