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Numbers 11 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

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.”

Numbers 11 New International Version (NIV)

Fire From the Lord

11 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah,[a] because fire from the Lord had burned among them.

Quail From the Lord

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!

The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

16 The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.

18 “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

21 But Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ 22 Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?”

23 The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.

24 So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied—but did not do so again.

26 However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”

29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” 30 Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

31 Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits[b] deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers.[c] Then they spread them out all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah,[d] because there they buried the people who had craved other food.

35 From Kibroth Hattaavah the people traveled to Hazeroth and stayed there.

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 11:3 Taberah means burning.
  2. Numbers 11:31 That is, about 3 feet or about 90 centimeters
  3. Numbers 11:32 That is, possibly about 1 3/4 tons or about 1.6 metric tons
  4. Numbers 11:34 Kibroth Hattaavah means graves of craving.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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