God, having performed his promise to Moses by giving him assessors in the government, thereby proving the power he has over the spirits of men by his Spirit, he here performs his promise to the people by giving them flesh, proving thereby his power over the inferior creatures and his dominion in the kingdom of nature. Observe, 1. How the people were gratified with flesh in abundance: A wind (a south-east wind, as appears, Ps. 78:26) brought quails, Num. 11:31. It is uncertain what sort of animals they were; the psalmist calls them feathered fowl, or fowl of wing. The learned bishop Patrick inclines to agree with some modern writers, who think they were locusts, a delicious sort of food well known in those parts, the rather because they were brought with a wind, lay in heaps, and were dried in the sun for use. Whatever they were, they answered the intention, they served for a month’s feast for Israel, such an indulgent Father was God to his froward family. Locusts, that had been a plague to fruitful Egypt, feeding upon the fruits, were a blessing to a barren wilderness, being themselves fed upon. 2. How greedy they were of this flesh that God sent them. They flew upon the spoil with an unsatiable appetite, not regarding what Moses had told them from God, that they would surfeit upon it, Num. 11:32. Two days and a night they were at it, gathering flesh, till every master of a family had brought home ten homers (that is, ten ass-loads) at least. David longed for the water of the well of Bethlehem, but would not drink it when he had it, because it was obtained by venturing; much more reason these Israelites had to refuse this flesh, which was obtained by murmuring, and which, they might easily perceive, by what Moses said, was given them in anger; but those that are under the power of a carnal mind will have their lusts fulfilled, though it be to the certain damage and ruin of their precious souls. 3. How dearly they paid for their feasts, when it came into the reckoning: The Lord smote them with a very great plague (Num. 11:33), some bodily disease, which probably was the effect of their surfeit, and was the death of many of them, and those, it is likely, the ringleaders in the mutiny. Note, God often grants the desires of his own people in love. He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul, Ps. 106:15. By all that was said to them they were not estranged from their lusts, and therefore, while the meat was in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them, Ps. 78:30; 31. What we inordinately desire, if we obtain it (we have reason to fear), will be some way or other a grief and cross to us. God satiated them first, and then plagued them, (1.) To save the reputation of his own power, that it might not be said, “He would not have cut them off had he been able to supply them.” And, (2.) To show us the meaning of the prosperity of sinners; it is their preparation for ruin, they are fed as an ox for the slaughter. Lastly, The remembrance of this is preserved in the name given to the place, Num. 11:34. Moses called it Kibroth-hattaavah, the graves of lusters or of lust. And well it had been if these graves of Israel’s lusters had proved the graves of Israel’s lust: the warning was designed to be so, but it had not its due effect, for it follows (Ps. 78:32), For all this, they sinned still.
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