New English Translation
The Israelites Complain
11 [a] When the people complained,[b] it displeased[c] the Lord. When the Lord heard[d] it, his anger burned,[e] and so[f] the fire of the Lord[g] burned among them and consumed some of the outer parts of the camp. 2 When the people cried to Moses, he[h] prayed to the Lord, and the fire died out.[i] 3 So he called the name of that place Taberah[j] because there the fire of the Lord burned among them.
Complaints about Food
4 [k] Now the mixed multitude[l] who were among them craved more desirable foods,[m] and so the Israelites wept again[n] and said, “If only we had meat to eat![o] 5 We remember[p] the fish we used to eat[q] freely[r] in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. 6 But now we[s] are dried up,[t] and there is nothing at all before us[u] except this manna!” 7 (Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its color like the color of bdellium. 8 And the people went about and gathered it, and ground it with mills or pounded it in mortars; they baked it in pans and made cakes of it. It tasted like fresh olive oil.[v] 9 And when the dew came down[w] on the camp in the night, the manna fell[x] with it.)
Moses’ Complaint to the Lord
10 [y] Moses heard the people weeping[z] throughout their families, everyone at the door of his tent; and when the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly, Moses was also displeased.[aa] 11 And Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you afflicted[ab] your servant? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that[ac] you lay the burden of this entire people on me? 12 Did I conceive this entire people?[ad] Did I give birth to[ae] them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your arms, as a foster father[af] bears a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to their fathers? 13 From where shall I get[ag] meat to give to this entire people, for they cry to me, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat!’[ah] 14 I am not able to bear this entire people alone,[ai] because it[aj] is too heavy for me! 15 But if you are going to deal[ak] with me like this, then kill me immediately.[al] If I have found favor in your sight then do not let me see my trouble.”[am]
The Response of God
16 [an] The Lord said to Moses, “Gather to me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know are elders of the people and officials[ao] over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting; let them take their position there with you. 17 Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take part of the Spirit that is on you, and will put it on them, and they will bear some of the burden of the people with you, so that you do not bear it[ap] all by yourself.
18 “And say to the people, ‘Sanctify yourselves[aq] for tomorrow, and you will eat meat, for you have wept in the hearing[ar] of the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat,[as] for life[at] was good for us in Egypt?” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat. 19 You will eat, not just one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, 20 but a whole month,[au] until it comes out your nostrils and makes you sick,[av] because you have despised[aw] the Lord who is among you and have wept before him, saying, “Why[ax] did we ever come out of Egypt?”’”
21 Moses said, “The people around me[ay] are 600,000 on foot;[az] but you say, ‘I will give them meat,[ba] that they may eat[bb] for a whole month.’ 22 Would they have enough if the flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? If all the fish of the sea were caught for them, would they have enough?” 23 And the Lord said to Moses, “Is the Lord’s hand shortened?[bc] Now you will see whether my word to you will come true[bd] or not!”
24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. He then gathered seventy men of the elders of the people and had them stand around the tabernacle. 25 And the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to them, and he took some of the Spirit that was on Moses[be] and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them,[bf] they prophesied,[bg] but did not do so again.[bh]
Eldad and Medad
26 But two men remained in the camp; one’s name was Eldad, and the other’s name was Medad. And the Spirit rested on them. (Now they were among those in the registration,[bi] but had not gone to the tabernacle.) So they prophesied in the camp. 27 And a[bj] young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!” 28 Joshua son of Nun, the servant[bk] of Moses, one of his choice young men,[bl] said,[bm] “My lord Moses, stop them!”[bn] 29 Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for me?[bo] I wish that[bp] all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” 30 Then Moses returned to the camp along with the elders of Israel.
Provision of Quail
31 Now a wind[bq] went out[br] from the Lord and brought quail[bs] from the sea, and let them fall[bt] near the camp, about a day’s journey on this side, and about a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp, and about three feet[bu] high on the surface of the ground. 32 And the people stayed up[bv] all that day, all that night, and all the next day, and gathered the quail. The one who gathered the least gathered ten homers,[bw] and they spread them out[bx] for themselves all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth, before they chewed it,[by] the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague.
34 So the name of that place was called Kibroth Hattaavah,[bz] because there they buried the people that craved different food.[ca] 35 The people traveled from Kibroth Hattaavah to Hazeroth, and they stayed at Hazeroth.
- Numbers 11:1 sn The chapter includes the initial general complaints (vv. 1-3), the complaints about food (vv. 4-9), Moses’ own complaint to the Lord (vv. 10-15), God’s response to Moses (vv. 16-25), Eldad and Medad (vv. 26-29), and the quail (vv. 30-35). The first part records the burning of the camp, named Taberah. Here is one of the several naming narratives in the wilderness experience. The occasion for divine judgment is the complaining of the people. The passages serve to warn believers of all ages not to murmur as the Israelites did, for such complaining reveals a lack of faith in the power and goodness of God. For additional literature, see W. Brueggemann, “From Hurt to Joy, from Death to Life,” Int 28 (1974): 3-19; B. S. Childs, “The Etiological Tale Re-examined,” VT 24 (1974): 387-97; G. W. Coats, Rebellion in the Wilderness; and A. C. Tunyogi, “The Rebellions of Israel,” JBL 81 (1962): 385-90.
- Numbers 11:1 tn The temporal clause uses the Hitpoel infinitive construct from אָנַן (ʾanan). It is a rare word, occurring in Lam 3:39. With this blunt introduction the constant emphasis of obedience to the word of the Lord found throughout the first ten chapters suddenly comes to an end. It is probable that the people were tired of moving for several days, the excitement of the new beginning died out quickly in the “great and terrible wilderness.” Resentment, frustration, discomfort—whatever it all involved—led to complaining and not gratitude.
- Numbers 11:1 tn Heb “it was evil in the ears of the Lord.” The word רַע (raʿ) is a much stronger word than “displeased” would suggest. The bold anthropomorphism shows that what the Lord heard was painful to him.
- Numbers 11:1 tn The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive is here subordinated to the next verb as a temporal clause.
- Numbers 11:1 tn The common Hebrew expression uses the verb חָרָה (kharah, “to be hot, to burn, to be kindled”). The subject is אַפּוֹ (ʾappo), “his anger” or more literally, his nose, which in this anthropomorphic expression flares in rage. The emphasis is superlative—“his anger raged.”
- Numbers 11:1 tn The vav (ו) consecutive does not simply show sequence in the verbs, but here expresses the result of the anger of the Lord for their complaining. With such a response to the complaining, one must conclude that it was unreasonable. There had been no long deprivation or endured suffering; the complaining was early and showed a rebellious spirit.
- Numbers 11:1 sn The “fire of the Lord” is supernatural, for it is said to come from the Lord and not from a natural source. God gave them something to complain about—something to fear. The other significant place where this “fire of the Lord” destroyed was in the case of Nadab and Abihu who brought strange fire to the altar (Lev 10:2).
- Numbers 11:2 tn Heb “Moses.”
- Numbers 11:2 sn Here is the pattern that will become in the wilderness experience so common—the complaining turns to a cry to Moses, which is then interpreted as a prayer to the Lord, and there is healing. The sequence presents a symbolic lesson, an illustration of the intercession of the Holy Spirit. The NT will say that in times of suffering Christians do not know how to pray, but the Spirit intercedes for them, changing their cries into the proper prayers (Rom 8).
- Numbers 11:3 tn The name תַּבְעֵרָה (tavʿerah) is given to the spot as a commemorative of the wilderness experience. It is explained by the formula using the same verbal root, “to burn.” Such naming narratives are found dozens of times in the OT, and most frequently in the Pentateuch. The explanation is seldom an exact etymology, and so in the literature is called a popular etymology. It is best to explain the connection as a figure of speech, a paronomasia, which is a phonetic wordplay that may or may not be etymologically connected. Usually the name is connected to the explanation by a play on the verbal root—here the preterite explaining the noun. The significance of commemorating the place by such a device is to “burn” it into the memory of Israel. The narrative itself would be remembered more easily by the name and its motif. The namings in the wilderness wanderings remind the faithful of unbelief, and warn us all not to murmur as they murmured. See further A. P. Ross, “Paronomasia and Popular Etymologies in the Naming Narrative of the Old Testament,” Ph.D. diss., University of Cambridge, 1982.
- Numbers 11:4 sn The story of the sending of the quail is a good example of poetic justice, or talionic justice. God had provided for the people, but even in that provision they were not satisfied, for they remembered other foods they had in Egypt. No doubt there was not the variety of foods in the Sinai that might have been available in Egypt, but their life had been bitter bondage there as well. They had cried to the Lord for salvation, but now they forget, as they remember things they used to have. God will give them what they crave, but it will not do for them what they desire. For more information on this story, see B. J. Malina, The Palestinian Manna Tradition. For the attempt to explain manna and the other foods by natural phenomena, see F. W. Bodenheimer, “The Manna of Sinai,” BA 10 (1947): 1-6.
- Numbers 11:4 tn The mixed multitude (or “rabble,” so NASB, NIV, NRSV; NLT “foreign rabble”) is the translation of an unusual word, הָאסַפְסֻף (haʾsafsuf). It occurs in the Hebrew Bible only here. It may mean “a gathering of people” from the verb אָסַף (ʾasaf), yielding the idea of a mixed multitude (in line with Exod 12:38). But the root is different, and so no clear connection can be established. Many commentators therefore think the word is stronger, showing contempt through a word that would be equivalent to “riff-raff.”
- Numbers 11:4 tn The Hebrew simply uses the cognate accusative, saying “they craved a craving” (הִתְאַוּוּ תַּאֲוָה, hitʾavvu taʾavah), but the context shows that they had this strong craving for food. The verb describes a strong desire, which is not always negative (Ps 132:13-14). But the word is a significant one in the Torah; it was used in the garden story for Eve’s desire for the tree, and it is used in the Decalogue in the warning against coveting (Deut 5:21).
- Numbers 11:4 tc The Greek and the Latin versions read “and they sat down” for “and they returned,” involving just a change in vocalization (which they did not have). This may reflect the same expression in Judg 20:26. But the change does not improve this verse.tn The Hebrew text uses a verbal hendiadys here, one word serving as an adverb for the other. It literally reads “and they returned and they wept,” which means they wept again. Here the weeping is put for the complaint, showing how emotionally stirred up the people had become by the craving. The words throughout here are metonymies. The craving is a metonymy of cause, for it would have then led to expressions (otherwise the desires would not have been known). And the weeping is either a metonymy of effect, or of adjunct, for the actual complaints follow.
- Numbers 11:4 tn The Hebrew expresses the strong wish or longing idiomatically: “Who will give us flesh to eat?” It is a rhetorical expression not intended to be taken literally, but merely to give expression to the longing they had. See GKC 476 §151.a.1.
- Numbers 11:5 tn The perfect tense here expresses the experience of a state of mind.sn As with all who complain in such situations, their memory was selective. It was their bitter cries to the Lord from the suffering in bondage that God heard and answered. And now, shortly after being set free, their memory of Egypt is for things they do not now have. It is also somewhat unlikely that they as slaves had such abundant foods in Egypt.
- Numbers 11:5 tn The imperfect tense would here be the customary imperfect, showing continual or incomplete action in past time.
- Numbers 11:5 tn The adverb “freely” is from the word חָנַן (khanan, “to be gracious”), from which is derived the noun “grace.” The word underscores the idea of “free, without cost, for no reason, gratis.” Here the simple sense is “freely,” without any cost. But there may be more significance in the choice of the words in this passage, showing the ingratitude of the Israelites to God for His deliverance from bondage. To them now the bondage is preferable to the salvation—this is what angered the Lord.
- Numbers 11:6 tn Heb “our souls.”
- Numbers 11:6 sn The Hebrews were complaining both about the bland taste of the manna and dehydration—they were parched in the wilderness.
- Numbers 11:6 tn Heb “before our eyes,” meaning that “we see nothing except this manna.”
- Numbers 11:8 tn Heb “And its taste was like the taste of fresh olive oil.”
- Numbers 11:9 tn The temporal clause is constructed of the infinitive construct from יָרָד (yarad) with a temporal preposition, followed by the subjective genitive.
- Numbers 11:9 tn Heb “came down.”
- Numbers 11:10 sn Moses begins to feel the burden of caring for this people, a stubborn and rebellious people. His complaint shows how contagious their complaining has been. It is one thing to cry out to God about the load of ministry, but it is quite another to do it in such a way as to reflect a lack of faith in God’s provision. God has to remind the leader Moses that he, the Lord, can do anything. This is a variation on the theme from Exodus—“who am I that I should lead….”
- Numbers 11:10 tn The participle “weeping” is functioning here as the noun in the accusative case, an adverbial accusative of state. It is explicative of the object.
- Numbers 11:10 tn Heb “it was evil in the eyes of Moses.”
- Numbers 11:11 tn The verb is the Hiphil of רָעַע (raʿaʿ, “to be evil”). Moses laments (with the rhetorical question) that God seems to have caused him harm.
- Numbers 11:11 tn The infinitive construct with the preposition is expressing the result of not finding favor with God (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 12-13, §57). What Moses is claiming is that because he has been given this burden God did not show him favor.
- Numbers 11:12 sn The questions Moses asks are rhetorical. He is actually affirming that they are not his people, that he did not produce them, but now is to support them. His point is that God produced this nation, but has put the burden of caring for their needs on him.
- Numbers 11:12 tn The verb means “to beget, give birth to.” The figurative image from procreation completes the parallel question, first the conceiving and second the giving birth to the nation.
- Numbers 11:12 tn The word אֹמֵן (ʾomen) is often translated “nurse,” but the form is a masculine form and would better be rendered as a “foster parent.” This does not work as well, though, with the יֹנֵק (yoneq), the “sucking child.” The two metaphors are simply designed to portray the duty of a parent to a child as a picture of Moses’ duty for the nation. The idea that it portrays God as a mother pushes it too far (see M. Noth, Numbers [OTL], 86-87).
- Numbers 11:13 tn The Hebrew text simply has “from where to me flesh?” which means “from where will I have meat?”
- Numbers 11:13 tn The cohortative coming after the imperative stresses purpose (it is an indirect volitive).
- Numbers 11:14 tn The word order shows the emphasis: “I am not able, I by myself, to bear all this people.” The infinitive לָשֵׂאת (laseʾt) serves as the direct object of the verb. The expression is figurative, for bearing or carrying the people means being responsible for all their needs and cares.
- Numbers 11:14 tn The subject of the verb “heavy” is unstated; in the context it probably refers to the people, or the burden of caring for the people. This responsibility was turning out to be a heavier responsibility than Moses anticipated. Alone he was totally inadequate.
- Numbers 11:15 tn The participle expresses the future idea of what God is doing, or what he is going to be doing. Moses would rather be killed than be given a totally impossible duty over a people that were not his.
- Numbers 11:15 tn The imperative of הָרַג (harag) is followed by the infinitive absolute for emphasis. The point is more that the infinitive adds to the emphasis of the imperative mood, which would be immediate compliance.
- Numbers 11:15 tn Or “my own ruin” (NIV). The word “trouble” here probably refers to the stress and difficulty of caring for a complaining group of people. The suffix on the noun would be objective, perhaps stressing the indirect object of the noun—trouble for me. The expression “on my trouble” (בְּרָעָתִי, beraʿati) is one of the so-called tiqqune sopherim, or “emendations of the scribes.” According to this tradition the original reading in v. 15 was [to look] “on your evil” (בְּרָעָתֶךָ, beraʿatekha), meaning “the calamity that you bring about” for Israel. However, since such an expression could be mistakenly thought to attribute evil to the Lord, the ancient scribes changed it to the reading found in the MT.
- Numbers 11:16 sn The Lord provides Spirit-empowered assistance for Moses. Here is another variation on the theme of Moses’ faith. Just as he refused to lead alone and was given Aaron to share the work, so here he protests the burden and will share it with seventy elders. If God’s servant will not trust wholeheartedly, that individual will not be used by God as he or she might have been. Others will share in the power and the work. Probably one could say that it was God’s will for others to share this leadership—but not to receive it through these circumstances.
- Numbers 11:16 tn The “officials” (שֹׁטְרִים, shoterim) were a group of the elders who seem to have had some administrative capacities. The LXX used the word “scribes.” For further discussion, see R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 69-70.
- Numbers 11:17 tn The imperfect tense here is to be classified as a final imperfect, showing the result of this action by God. Moses would be relieved of some of the responsibility when these others were given the grace to understand and to resolve cases.
- Numbers 11:18 tn The Hitpael is used to stress that they are to prepare for a holy appearance. The day was going to be special and so required their being set apart for it. But it is a holy day in the sense of the judgment that was to follow.
- Numbers 11:18 tn Heb “in the ears.”
- Numbers 11:18 tn Possibly this could be given an optative translation, to reflect the earlier one: “O that someone would give….” But the verb is not the same; here it is the Hiphil of the verb “to eat”—“who will make us eat” (i.e., provide meat for us to eat).
- Numbers 11:18 tn The word “life” is not in the text. The expression is simply “it was for us,” or “we had good,” meaning “we had it good,” or “life was good.”
- Numbers 11:20 tn Heb “a month of days.” So also in v. 21.
- Numbers 11:20 tn The expression לְזָרָה (lezarah) has been translated “ill” or “loathsome.” It occurs only here in the Hebrew Bible. The Greek text interprets it as “sickness.” It could be nausea or vomiting (so G. B. Gray, Numbers [ICC], 112) from overeating.
- Numbers 11:20 sn The explanation is the interpretation of their behavior—it is in reality what they have done, even though they would not say they despised the Lord. They had complained and shown a lack of faith and a contempt for the program, which was in essence despising the Lord.
- Numbers 11:20 tn The use of the demonstrative pronoun here (“why is this we went out…”) is enclitic, providing emphasis to the sentence: “Why in the world did we ever leave Egypt?”
- Numbers 11:21 tn Heb “the people who I am in their midst,” i.e., among whom I am.
- Numbers 11:21 tn The Hebrew sentence stresses the number. The sentence begins “600,000….”
- Numbers 11:21 tn The word order places the object first here: “Meat I will give them.” This adds to the contrast between the number and the statement of the Lord.
- Numbers 11:21 tn The verb is the perfect tense with a vav (ו) consecutive, carrying the sequence from the preceding imperfect tense. However, this verb may be subordinated to the preceding to express a purpose clause.
- Numbers 11:23 sn This anthropomorphic expression concerns the power of God. The “hand of the Lord” is idiomatic for his power, what he is able to do. The question is rhetorical; it is affirming that his hand is not shortened, i.e., that his power is not limited. Moses should have known this, and so this is a rebuke for him at this point. God had provided the manna, among all the other powerful acts they had witnessed. Meat would be no problem. But the lack of faith by the people was infectious.
- Numbers 11:23 tn Or “will happen” (TEV); KJV “shall come to pass unto thee.”
- Numbers 11:25 tn Heb “on him”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Numbers 11:25 tn The temporal clause is introduced by the temporal indicator וַיְהִי (vayehi), which need not be translated. It introduces the time of the infinitive as past time narrative. The infinitive construct is from נוּחַ (nuakh, “to rest”). The figurative expression of the Spirit resting upon them indicates the temporary indwelling and empowering by the Spirit in their lives.
- Numbers 11:25 tn The text may mean that these men gave ecstatic utterances, much like Saul did when the Spirit came upon him and he made the same prophetic utterances (see 1 Sam 10:10-13). But there is no strong evidence for this (see K. L. Barker, “Zechariah,” EBC 7:605-6). In fact there is no consensus among scholars as to the origin and meaning of the verb “prophesy” or the noun “prophet.” It has something to do with speech, being God’s spokesman or spokeswoman or making predictions or authoritative utterances or ecstatic utterances. It certainly does mean that the same Holy Spirit, the same divine provision that was for Moses to enable him to do the things that God had commanded him to do, was now given to them. It would have included wisdom and power with what they were saying and doing—in a way that was visible and demonstrable to the people! The people needed to know that the same provision was given to these men, authenticating their leadership among the clans. And so it could not simply be a change in their understanding and wisdom.
- Numbers 11:25 tn The final verb of the clause stresses that this was not repeated: “they did not add” is the literal rendering of וְלֹא יָסָפוּ (veloʾ yasafu). It was a one-time spiritual experience associated with their installation.tc The Targum, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, and the Vulgate read “they did not cease prophesying,” presumably taking the verb to be יָסֻפוּ (yasufu; from סוּף; suf). This does not represent a change in the consonantal text, only in the vowels, which were not originally written. The Hebrew verb סוּף is rare (occurring) and appears to mean “to come to an end; to perish” (HALOT, 746). This would mean that they did not die from their encounter with the Lord.
- Numbers 11:26 tn The form of the word is the passive participle כְּתֻבִים (ketuvim, “written”). It is normally taken to mean “among those registered,” but it is not clear if that means they were to be among the seventy or not. That seems unlikely since there is no mention of the seventy being registered, and vv. 24-25 says all seventy went out and prophesied. The registration may be to eldership, or the role of the officer.
- Numbers 11:27 tn The article indicates that the “young man” was definite in the mind of the writer, but indefinite in English.
- Numbers 11:28 tn The form is the Piel participle מְשָׁרֵת (mesharet), meaning “minister, servant, assistant.” The word has a loftier meaning than the ordinary word for slave.
- Numbers 11:28 tn The verb is בָּחַר (bakhar, “to choose”); here the form is the masculine plural participle with a suffix, serving as the object of the preposition מִן (min). It would therefore mean “[one of] his chosen men,” or “[one of] his choice men.”
- Numbers 11:28 tn Heb “answered and said.”
- Numbers 11:28 sn The effort of Joshua is to protect Moses’ prerogative as leader by stopping these men in the camp from prophesying. Joshua did not understand the significance in the Lord’s plan to let others share the burden of leadership.
- Numbers 11:29 tn The Piel participle מְקַנֵּא (meqanneʾ) serves as a verb here in this interrogative sentence. The word means “to be jealous; to be envious.” That can be in a good sense, such as with the translation “zeal,” or it can be in a negative sense as here. Joshua’s apparent “zeal” is questioned by Moses—was he zealous/envious for Moses sake, or for some other reason?
- Numbers 11:29 tn The optative is expressed by the interrogative clause in Hebrew, “who will give….” Moses expresses here the wish that the whole nation would have that portion of the Spirit. The new covenant, of course, would turn Moses’ wish into a certainty.
- Numbers 11:31 sn The irony in this chapter is expressed in part by the use of the word רוּחַ (ruakh). In the last episode it clearly meant the Spirit of the Lord that empowered the men for their spiritual service. But here the word is “wind.” Both the spiritual service and the judgment come from God.
- Numbers 11:31 tn The verb means “burst forth” or “sprang up.” See the ways it is used in Gen 33:12, Judg 16:3, 14; Isa 33:20.
- Numbers 11:31 sn The “quail” ordinarily cross the Sinai at various times of the year, but what is described here is not the natural phenomenon. Biblical scholars looking for natural explanations usually note that these birds fly at a low height and can be swatted down easily. But the description here is more of a supernatural supply and provision. See J. Gray, “The Desert Sojourn of the Hebrews and the Sinai Horeb Tradition,” VT 4 (1954): 148-54.
- Numbers 11:31 tn Or “left them fluttering.”
- Numbers 11:31 tn Heb “two cubits.” The standard cubit in the OT is assumed by most authorities to be about 18 inches (45 cm) in length.
- Numbers 11:32 tn Heb “rose up, stood up.”
- Numbers 11:32 sn This is about two thousand liters.
- Numbers 11:32 tn The verb (a preterite) is followed by the infinitive absolute of the same root, to emphasize the action of spreading out the quail. Although it is hard to translate the expression, it indicates that they spread these quail out all over the area. The vision of them spread all over was evidence of God’s abundant provision for their needs.
- Numbers 11:33 tn The verb is a prefixed conjugation, normally an imperfect tense. But coming after the adverb טֶרֶם (terem) it is treated as a preterite.
- Numbers 11:34 sn The name “the graves of the ones who craved” is again explained by a wordplay, a popular etymology. In Hebrew קִבְרוֹת הַתַּאֲוָה (qivrot hattaʾavah) is the technical name. It is the place that the people craved the meat, longing for the meat of Egypt, and basically rebelled against God. The naming marks another station in the wilderness where the people failed to accept God’s good gifts with grace and to pray for their other needs to be met.
- Numbers 11:34 tn The words “different food” are implied, and are supplied in the translation for clarity.