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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Numbers 11

 

 

Verse 1

Numbers 11:1 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.

Ver. 1. And when the people complained.] Or, Were as it were complainers: they did inwardly and secretly repine and mutter at their three days’ march, without intermission; like those horses that digest their choler by biting their bridle.

Consumed them that were in the uttermost parts.] There, it seems, the sin began amongst those that were faint and weary with travel, as Deuteronomy 25:18.


Verse 2

Numbers 11:2 And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched.

Ver. 2. And the people cried to Moses.] That lord chancellor of heaven, as one calleth him, that could rule with God, and overrule. Of Moses it might be said, as once of Luther, Iste vir potuit apud Deum quod voluit, He might have whatsoever he would of God.


Verse 3

Numbers 11:3 And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the LORD burnt among them.

Ver. 3. The name of the place Taberah.] So to perpetuate the memory of the people’s sin, and God’s judgment. Alterius perditio, tua sit cautio.


Verse 4

Numbers 11:4 And the mixt 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?

Ver. 4. And the mixed multitude.] {See Trapp on "Exodus 12:38"} Observe the danger of ill company. Fish retain their sweetness in the salt sea. The river Dee in Merionethshire, running through Pimblemere, remains entire, and mingles not her streams with the waters of the lake. The rivers of Peru, after they have run some miles into the sea, retain their sweetness, as writers report. But to converse with the ungodly, and not to learn their manners, is marvellously rare and difficult. A man may pass through Ethiopia unchanged; but he cannot dwell there and not be discoloured.

The children of Israel wept again.] And were punished again. Herein they were like froward children, that, while crying for an apple that is in the father’s hand, will fling away the cake that is in their own; and so get a whipping rather than a pippin, as we say; a lashing rather than their longing.


Verse 5

Numbers 11:5 We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:

Ver. 5. We remember the fish.] They forgat their servitude. Discontent is ever harping upon wants, and enjoys nothing: no more than Haman did his honour, or Ahab his kingdom, when he longed for a salad out of Naboth’s garden.


Verse 6

Numbers 11:6 But now our soul [is] dried away: [there is] nothing at all, beside this manna, [before] our eyes.

Ver. 6. There is nothing at all besides.] The wheat of heaven was held a light meat, because lightly come by; Cito parta vilescunt. How are many queasy stomachs even nauseated with the bread of life! it makes not to their dainty palates; plain preaching is disrelished.


Verse 7

Numbers 11:7 And the manna [was] as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium.

Ver. 7. And the manna.] {See Trapp on "Exodus 16:14"} {See Trapp on "Exodus 16:31"} There was therefore no such cause they should so loathe it.

Was as coriander seed.] Small, but full of sweetness and nourishment. This might be some cause of Moses’ undecayedness. [Deuteronomy 34:7]

As the colour of bdellium.] A kind of transparent and precious gum.


Verse 8

Numbers 11:8 [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.

Ver. 8. And the people went about.] Or, "Went to and fro," as men ought still to "increase knowledge," [Daniel 12:4] "labouring for the meat that endureth to eternal life." [John 6:27] God might have saved them this labour, by raining manna into their mouths; but he would not, for the trial of their diligence; and that they might not think that worth nothing, that cost them nothing.

And ground it in mills.] So was Jesus Christ ground and pounded with passion, baked and dried up in the oven of his Father’s displeasure, before he became fit food, and a Saviour to his Church.

As the taste of fresh oil.] Or, Wafers baked with honey. [Exodus 16:31] The sweet promises of grace are sweeter than honey. [Psalms 19:10] No fresh and sweet oil can so cherish the face, as they do the heart of a believer.


Verse 9

Numbers 11:9 And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.

Ver. 9. And when the dew fell.] As manna fell in the dew, so doth the Spirit descend in and by the word preached. [Galatians 3:2]

In the night.] Figuring that hidden manna, laid up and prepared for the saints. [Revelation 2:17]


Verse 10

Numbers 11:10 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 also was displeased.

Ver. 10. Weep throughout their families.] Generally and openly they rebelled and murmured, though so lately they had smarted at Taberah. And this they did, not once or twice, but ten times over; whereby it appears that God chose this unthankful people, not for their merits, sed ex mera et mira misericordia. He chose them for his love, and loved them for his choice.


Verse 11

Numbers 11:11 And Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?

Ver. 11. Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant.] Antoninus the Emperor said often, Imperium oceanum esse malorum, that to be a governor of others is to be plunged into an ocean of miseries. Pope Adrian caused to be engraven upon his own tomb, Faelix si non imperitasset. Melancthon said, the three sorest labours of all were, Docentis, imperantis, parturientis, the labours of ministers, magistrates, and of travailing women.


Verse 12

Numbers 11:12 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 swarest unto their fathers?

Ver. 12. As a nursing father beareth, &c.] Lovingly, mildly, gently. A magistrate should carry himself as a pater patriae. Queen Elizabeth would many times say, That she could believe nothing of her people that parents would not believe of their children. (a)


Verse 13

Numbers 11:13 Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat.

Ver. 13. Whence should I have flesh.] Lust is unsatisfiable; to go about it, is to go about an endless piece of work; it is to cast oil into the fire to quench it.


Verse 14

Numbers 11:14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because [it is] too heavy for me.

Ver. 14. It is too heavy for me.] Crowns have their cares; high seats are uneasy, many a cumber attends honour. Beatus ille qui procul negotiis. (a)


Verse 15

Numbers 11:15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.

Ver. 15. And if thou deal thus with me.] Here the word Thou, spoken to God, is of the feminine gender. At, for Atta, - ex magna perturbatione, saith a Rabbin. Moses was so exceedingly moved with anger and grief, these passions did so overcarry him, that he could not complere vocem, utter his whole speech; as he that groaneth or gapeth in the beginning of his sentence cannot make up his breath to speak what he intended.


Verse 16

Numbers 11:16 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.

Ver. 16. Gather unto me seventy men.] Here, say some, began the Sanhedrim, that is, the great council of the Jews, consisting of seventy seniors and one president. It continued till the time of Herod the Great, who took it away, and changed the form of it.


Verse 17

Numbers 11:17 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.

Ver. 17. And I will take of the spirit,] i.e., I will bestow the same spirit upon them as upon thee; and this shall be nothing at all to thy loss or disadvantage. Habet Hispania montem ex sale magnum, de quo quantum demas, tantum accrescit.

Shall bear the burden of the people.] Who are in nothing more a burden than in this, that with them αει το παρον βαρυ, (a) Praesens imperium semper grave, They are ever grumbling at the present government, though never so gentle. Alleva iugum, Ease the yoke that thy father put upon us, said they to Rehoboam, forgetting the golden age they had lived in under his father Solomon. [1 Kings 12:4]


Verse 18

Numbers 11:18 And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, 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.

Ver. 18. Sanctify yourselves.] Ironice dictum; or, Sanctify; that is, Prepare yourselves for the day of slaughter, as in Jeremiah 12:3.

For ye have wept in the ears.] Tears, of what sort soever, have a voice in them, [Psalms 39:12] as blood hath. [Genesis 4:10]

For it was well with us in Egypt.] Such is the murmuring of those malcontents, that say, It was a merry world before there was so much preaching and teaching.

And ye shall eat.] Flesh with a vengeance; which ye shall eat on earth, but digest in hell. (a)


Verse 20

Numbers 11:20 [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?

Ver. 20. But even a whole month.] Deus saepe dat iratus quod negat propitius. Patientia Dei quo diuturnior, eo minacior -

Poena venit gravior quo magis sera venit.

God’s forbearance is no quittance: fatted beasts are but fitted for the slaughter: wicked men are killed with kindnesses: "Ease slayeth the fool." [Proverbs 1:32]


Verse 21

Numbers 11:21 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.

Ver. 21. Six hundred thousand footmen.] In the conquest of Canaan, there is no mention of horsemen. The adversaries, both Egyptians and Canaanites, had horses and chariots; not so this people of Israel. See Psalms 33:17.


Verse 22

Numbers 11:22 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?

Ver. 22. Or shall all the fish of the sea.] Moses forgat, belike, the fowls of the air, but God sent them such a drift of quails, as Moses dreamed not of: he fed them with meat of kings, bread of angels.


Verse 23

Numbers 11:23 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.

Ver. 23. And the Lord said unto Moses.] God bears with Moses here; which afterwards he did not, [Numbers 20:12] because then he showed his distrust before the people. God will not pass by the scandalous practices of his own people without a sensible check.

Is the Lord’s hand shortened.] Moses thought God had made an unadvised promise, and prays him to consider, that the people were so many thousand, and that the flocks and herds would not suffice them. But God answers here, that he is never nonplussed.


Verse 24

Numbers 11:24 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.

Ver. 24. And set them roundabout the tabernacle.] That the fear of the Lord might be upon them, &c., [2 Chronicles 19:6-7] and that they might carry themselves worthy of God, who had set them in places of judicature. To the company of the Areopagites (judges in Athens) none were admitted, but wise, wealthy, and noble men, famous for good life and innoceney. Nay, men whose behaviour was intolerable, after they were chosen into the college of the Areopagites, abhorring and blushing at their former disposition, changed their natures and embraced virtue. (a)


Verse 25

Numbers 11:25 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.

Ver. 25. Took of the spirit.] {See Trapp on "Numbers 11:17"}

They prophesied.] Nec praedicendo, nec praedicando; but by uttering grave and wise sentences, apothegms, or counsels, as Moses did, concerning the public affairs of Israel; by political and prudential speaking of things appertaining to government.


Verse 26

Numbers 11:26 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.

Ver. 26. But there remained two of the men.] Being stayed by some lawful occasion, as in 1 Samuel 20:26, Jeremiah 36:5, or haply out of sense of their own insufficiency, as in 1 Samuel 10:22. Howsoever, hereby it appeared to all the people that these seventy seniors were set apart by God for the service.

And they prophesied in the camp.] Hermas, in his book called "Pastor" (chap. ii.), mentioneth a book of their prophesy, and citeth these words, "The Lord is near to all those that turn unto him, as it is written in Eldad and Medad, who prophesied in the wilderness to the people." But this book of Hermas is of small credit.


Verse 27

Numbers 11:27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.

Ver. 27. And there ran a young man.] Three manner of persons, said Mr Latimer, can make no credible information: (1.) Adversaries and enemies; (2.) Ignorant persons and without judgment; (3.) Whisperers and blowers in men’s ears, that will utter in secret more than they dare avow openly.


Verse 28

Numbers 11:28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, [one] of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.

Ver. 28. My lord Moses, forbid.] Thus, "the spirit that is in us lusteth to envy." [James 4:5] Nero omnium erat aemulus, qui quoquo mode animum vulgi moverint, Nero envied every man that excelled.


Verse 29

Numbers 11:29 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!

Ver. 29. That all the Lord’s people.] This is not meant of a sacrifically teaching others, but a political discoursing unto others. {See Trapp on "Numbers 11:25"}


Verse 32

Numbers 11:32 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.

Ver. 32. And they spread them.] They fed without fear, [ 1:12] though foretold they should pay dear for these murdering morsels; [Numbers 11:20] that which they ate being sauced, and that which they drank being spiced, with the bitter wrath of God. [Job 20:23]

They gathered the quails.] Which they might the more easily do, if that be true which some (a) write, that the Arabian Gulf breedeth great store of quails, which fly low usually, so as they may easily be taken up with one’s hand.


Verse 34

Numbers 11:34 And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.

Ver. 34. They buried the people.] Who, by a hasty testament, bequeathed this new name to the place they lay buried in.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/numbers-11.html. 1865-1868.

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