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Friday, November 29 2013
Numbers 11: Winners and Whiners
The Israelites entered Egypt under the best of circumstances (see Genesis 47: Jacob's Israel In The Land Of Goshen). Although they were refugees from a great drought and famine, they were welcomed into Egypt where the great Nile River (see also Abraham's Seed: From The Nile To The Euphrates) enabled the country to withstand, and further prepare for when they began elsewhere, such disasters. Moreover, one of their own, Joseph (see Genesis 45: Joseph's Revelation), had become the executive ruler of the entire nation, second in authority to no one except the king of Egypt himself (the term "Pharaoh" originally referred the Egyptian king's palace, but later came to be used for the king himself).
Over the four centuries that the Israelites remained in Egypt, they grew from a family of seventy people (see Genesis 46: The First Census Of Israel) to a great multitude (see Exodus 1: I Will There Make Of Thee A Great Nation) - so great that a later Pharaoh regarded them as a potential security threat to Egypt. It was that Pharaoh's fear of the Israelites that made him impose economic limitations upon them that reduced them to slavery. He also attempted to stop their vigorous population growth, first by abortion, then by murder of male infants.
Considering that the Israelites had allowed themselves to be subjected to slavery, and then to the outright murder of their children, it would seem that the Pharaoh's fear of them was needless. If anything, the Pharaoh's brutal treatment of them, out of his fear that they would rebel against him, should have in itself been cause for a revolution. But it didn't. Despite their great numbers and physical strength (they were prolific and fit for hard labor), they had become psychologically docile ("easily handled or managed").
The adult generation that came out of Egypt in the Exodus had been reduced to living by means of whatever their slave masters provided to them. They lost their self-respect and their self-sufficiency. So it was then that Moses was given to lead a multitude of people who expected "someone" to feed and sustain them. The LORD liberated them to become winners, but instead they remained whiners (see also Exodus 13: Liberation, Not Liberal-ation).
"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. 11:2 And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched. 11:3 And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the LORD burnt among them." (Numbers 11:1-3 KJV)
Despite the warning, they "wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?" They longed for the food that their slave masters "freely" gave to them: "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."
"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? 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: 11:6 But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
Moses (keeping in mind that Moses had been raised in the Pharaoh's palace, not as a docile slave) was disheartened to realize that the multitude that he was leading was looking to him as a nursemaid: "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?"
The LORD's response was to appoint seventy elders to assist Moses - who would be given the Holy Spirit in the same measure as Moses: "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."
"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. 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? 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? 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. 11:14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. 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.
One of the few of that generation who were not docile whiners was Joshua. If there had been a revolution in Egypt, it would likely have been Joshua that led it (or perhaps he did try - but there were too few like him).
"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. 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?
The Israelites would eventually learn to earn their own living and fight their own battles, but in the meantime, the LORD (Who was and is Jesus Christ; see Genesis 1: In The Beginning Was The Word and The Kingdom Of The LORD God) fed them.
"11:31 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. 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. 11:33 And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague. 11:34 And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.
Fact Finder: Why didn't the adult Exodus generation arrive at the Promised Land?
This Day In History, November 29
561: King Chlothar I died at Compiegne. His four sons (Charibert I, Guntram, Sigebert I and Chilperic I) divided the Frankish Kingdom, while continuing the Merovingian Dynasty.
1394: Korean king Yi Seong-gye, founder of the Joseon Dynasty, relocated his capital from Kaeso(ng to Hanyang (known today as Seoul).
1612: The Battle of Swally that reduced the Portuguese Empire's control of India.
1760: British forces took possession of Detroit. It was prior to that time a French military and trading colony, founded in 1701 by the French explorer Antoine de la Mothe, sieur de Cadillac (one of his descendants named the Cadillac automobile after him). "Detroit" is a French word that means the straits i.e. in that case referring to the river that flows from Lake Erie to Lake St. Clair (another French name).
1787: King Louis XVI of France granted political recognition of Protestants.
1798: In Canada, the legislature of the Island of St. John voted to change its name to Prince Edward Island.
1812: Napoleon's "Grand Army" crossed the Berezina River in retreat from a disastrous defeat in Russia.
1864: Over 400 Cheyenne and Arapahoe people (women, children and old men - most of the young men were already dead in battles to defend their homelands from the European invaders) who had surrendered, and were told that they could camp there in peace, were massacred by a force of 700 Colorado Militiamen led by Colonel John Chivington at Sand Creek, Colorado. That particular incident of the genocide of native Americans (among many, many others) is variously known to historians as "the Sand Creek Massacre" or the "Chivington Massacre."
1922: King Tutankhamen's tomb was opened by archaeologists.
1947: The United Nations General Assembly voted to partition "Palestine" (a word that is merely another pronunciation of "Philistine") into Jewish and Arab territories (see also Israel In History and Prophecy: The Balfour Declaration).
1961: NASA launched a chimpanzee named Enos into Earth orbit. The Russians had already launched the first human into space, Yuri Gagarin, earlier that year, on April 12 1961.
1963: U.S. President Lyndon Johnson appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren to head a commission to investigate the assassination of John F. Kennedy The "Warren Commission" declared that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin.
1964: The Roman Catholic Church replaced Latin with English in masses in some countries.
1974: A bill to outlaw the Irish Republican Army became law in Britain.
1989: Czechoslovakian dissidents ousted Communist party leader Milos Jakes.