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The Israelites Complain

11 One day the Israelites started complaining about their troubles. The Lord heard them and became so angry that he destroyed the outer edges of their camp with fire.

When the people begged Moses to help, he prayed, and the fire went out. They named the place “Burning,”[a] because in his anger the Lord had set their camp on fire.

The People Grumble about Being Hungry

One day some worthless foreigners among the Israelites became greedy for food, and even the Israelites themselves began moaning, “We don’t have any meat! In Egypt we could eat all the fish we wanted, and there were cucumbers, melons, onions, and garlic. But we’re starving out here, and the only food we have is this manna.”

The manna was like small whitish seeds 8-9 and tasted like something baked with sweet olive oil. It appeared at night with the dew. In the morning the people would collect the manna, grind or crush it into flour, then boil it and make it into thin wafers.

10 The Israelites stood around their tents complaining. Moses heard them and was upset that they had made the Lord angry. 11 He prayed:

I am your servant, Lord, so why are you doing this to me? What have I done to deserve this? You’ve made me responsible for all these people, 12 but they’re not my children. You told me to nurse them along and to carry them to the land you promised their ancestors. 13 They keep whining for meat, but where can I get meat for them? 14 This job is too much for me. How can I take care of all these people by myself? 15 If this is the way you’re going to treat me, just kill me now and end my miserable life!

Seventy Leaders Are Chosen To Help Moses

16 The Lord said to Moses:

Choose seventy of Israel’s respected leaders and go with them to the sacred tent. 17 While I am talking with you there, I will give them some of your authority, so they can share responsibility for my people. You will no longer have to care for them by yourself.

18 As for the Israelites, I have heard them complaining about not having meat and about being better off in Egypt. So tell them to make themselves acceptable to me, because tomorrow they will have meat. 19-20 In fact, they will have meat day after day for a whole month—not just a few days, or even ten or twenty. They turned against me and wanted to return to Egypt. Now they will eat meat until they get sick of it.

21 Moses replied, “At least six hundred thousand grown men are here with me. How can you say there will be enough meat to feed them and their families for a whole month? 22 Even if we butchered all of our sheep and cattle, or caught every fish in the sea, we wouldn’t have enough to feed them.”

23 The Lord answered, “I can do anything! Watch and you’ll see my words come true.”

24 Moses told the people what the Lord had said. Then he chose seventy respected leaders and went with them to the sacred tent. While the leaders stood in a circle around the tent, Moses went inside, 25 and the Lord spoke with him. Then the Lord took some authority[b] from Moses and gave it to the seventy leaders. And when the Lord’s Spirit took control of them, they started shouting like prophets. But they did it only this one time.

26 Eldad and Medad were two leaders who had not gone to the tent. But when the Spirit took control of them, they began shouting like prophets right there in camp. 27 A boy ran to Moses and told him about Eldad and Medad.

28 Joshua[c] was there helping Moses, as he had done since he was young. And he said to Moses, “Sir, you must stop them!”

29 But Moses replied, “Are you concerned what this might do to me? I wish the Lord would give his Spirit to all his people so everyone could be a prophet.” 30 Then Moses and the seventy leaders went back to camp.

The Lord Sends Quails

31 Some time later the Lord sent a strong wind that blew quails in from the sea until Israel’s camp was completely surrounded with birds, piled up about three feet high for miles in every direction. 32 The people picked up quails for two days—each person filled at least fifty bushels. Then they spread them out to dry. 33 But before the meat could be eaten, the Lord became angry and sent a disease through the camp.

34 After they had buried the people who had been so greedy for meat, they called the place “Graves for the Greedy.”[d]

35 Israel then broke camp and traveled to Hazeroth.

Footnotes

  1. 11.3 Burning: Or “Taberah.”
  2. 11.25 some authority: Or “some of the Spirit’s power.”
  3. 11.28 Joshua: Hebrew “Joshua son of Nun.”
  4. 11.34 Graves for the Greedy: Or “Kibroth-Hattaavah.”

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