The Lord is going to answer the first complaint of Moses in NUm 11.11-15 in verses 16-18. If Moses would have asked the question for help instead of complaining, it would have been done. We just can’t complain, we need to ask if we need help. The real problem is addressed in Num 11.20, greed and lust was used to reject God’s provision.
We learn in Num 11.21 that there were at least 600,000 people. Three meals a day is 540,000,000 meals a month. Moses doesn’t know how to feed that many (v 22) but the Lord does because he is all powerful (v 23). So, Moses goes out to get the seventy men from the elders as mentioned before.
Num 11.25 is a very interesting and informative verse. It is a prophetic verse. In the Targum Onkelos (a commentary on the Torah) it is all Aramaic, except for Num 11.25, which was written in Greek. But why? Because Greek is “another tongue” and the Jewish expectation was this, when the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) came there would be “other tongues going forth” and of course this is exactly what happened (Isa 28.10; Joel 2.28; Acts 2; 1 Cor 12).
Num 11.26 tells us that two men, Eldad and Medad, remained in the camp and the Ruach rested on them as well because they were of the seventy but had not gone to the tent. It is said they didn’t think they were fit for governing and hid themselves, like Saul will do later (1 Sam 10.17-27), but the Ruach found them. They prophesied in the camp. Well, Joshua heard about this and he wanted them restrained (v 28). They were shocked that God spoke “outside” their group and theological box. The young man who ran to tell Moses about this had limited understanding of what the Lord was trying to do.
Then Moses asks Joshua, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on all of them.” This was going to have a future fulfillment, not only in Acts 2, but in the Olam Haba. This will form the core belief of what was to happen when Messiah came. God was going to move “outside the tent” of Israel on the non-Jews as well (Acts 10; Eph 2.11-22) in the eschatological congregation (Kahal-Matt 16.13-18). Now that the Ruach rested on them, they could help Moses in administration.
Num 11.31-35 tells us that the Lord fulfilled their request for “free food” when he sent quails. While the meat was still between their teeth (when it entered their mouth about to bite), before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people and the Lord struck them with a plague. As a result, the name of that place is “Kivrot-hattaavah” (graves of lust) because there they buried the people who had been greedy. They preferred the food from the world (11.4-6) over the bread from heaven (Exo 16.1-36; Num 11.7-9). If we reject the bread of life (Yeshua) then the plague of sin will kill us. This story is like ours as individuals.
We are delivered and we get in the “camp” and start our walk in the wilderness. Then we get discouraged and we don’t like Moses, and we miss Egypt. We miss this and that, and we want something that was left behind. Then we start to associate with the “rabble” and start complaining. We want more, and after awhile a whole group starts to act like an individual. The lesson: There is nothing wrong with having an appetite, but when we get out of control and ahead of God we are going to get into trouble. Notice that these lessons are set around the manna. Moses will sum all this up in Deut 8.3, Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. It is to test us (Deut 8.2).
Now we move on the Num 12.1-16 for another interesting portion with some concepts we need to know. You would think they would have learned their lesson in Num 11, but now Aaron and Miriam complain. They spoke against the Cushite woman Moses had married previously (v 1). Josephus tells us in Antiquities of the Jews, Book 2, Chapter 10 that Moses conquered Ethiopia (Cush) and was given a princess to marry, and her name was Tharbis. She fell in love with Moses because of his bravery and skill.
Aaron and Miriam say, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not only spoken through us as well?” Well, the Lord heard it. Remember, when you speak to an individual you are speaking to a group, and God hears what we say. Num 12.3 says, “The man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” Now, what does “humble” mean? Basically, it means to “know your place.” Moses knew who he was and he knew his talents, abilities and limitations. His achievements were from God. He knew his place in God’s plan. This something we all need to realize.
A person should have two pieces of paper on them. On one it should be written, “The world was created for me” and on the other it should be written “I came from dust and ashes.” The tree of life is to know when to take out which piece of paper. That is humility. Moses made the most of his responsibility and he needed to think less of himself. He delegated his own ego into the background and served the needs of others. He was less concerned with his own accomplishments.
Aaron and Miriam were trying to take God’s place. Ever have someone interfere and try to discipline your child? How much trouble do they get in? That is what happens when we speak against a brother or sister in the Lord. We try to take God’s place. God is not done with anyone yet and we must try and be patient with others. We may interfere with what God is doing with them.
So, the Lord calls Aaron and Miriam before him. He tells them that God speaks to man in various ways. God speaks in what is called a “Bat Kol (daughter of the voice) which is an audible voice. He also speaks through dreams, visions (like a trance, or “picture flashes” in the mind, etc). He also speaks through circumstances, the Scriptures, messengers, prophecies, a still small voice and dark speech (parables, puns). But when the Lord speaks with Moses, he speaks openly or “face to face.” It was clear and simple. There was no doubt about what God’s meaning was. Moses had a higher kedusha than Aaron and Miriam, so how could they speak against him? So, the anger of the Lord burned against both of them because they did not know their place.
We will pick up here in Part 11.