The people despise Yahweh's blessing of Manna
1 And when the people complained, it displeased Yahweh: and Yahweh heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire [Eish] of Yahweh burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp [at the edge of the machaneh].
Habitual complainers ...lack of vision -
Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.1 Cor. 10: 10
"And consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp"
- The words "them that were" are in italics, indicating that the words are not found in the original... Eliminate them, and the statement reads that the fire consumed in, or to, the uttermost parts of the camp. It swept through the tents of the people, destroying as it did so, until a trail of blackened tents spread to the uttermost confines of the camp.
The statement does not necessarily mean that people were destroyed by the fire, but rather (with thewords in italics eliminated) their tents. ...There had been complaining before which was not so severly punished...Exod. 14:11-15;15:24-26; 16:2-4,9,20,27-28; 17:2-4), but
now that the people had entered into covenant relationship with Yahweh, entailed
greater responsibility to obey.
The Christadelphian Expositor
3 And he called the name of the place Taberah [A burning- HPM] [shem hamakom Taverah]: because the fire [Eish] of Yahweh burnt among them.
4 And the mixt multitude [rabble] that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel [Bnei Yisroel] also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? [If only we had basar to eat!]
...the people hankered after more exotic things. Life is like that to this day.
We can experience the same lack of faith, if we tire of the Word, the manna of life, desiring the luxuries of Gentilism instead of the restrictions of the things of God.
The Christadelphian Expositor
THE GRAVES OF LUST
"There is nothing at all besides this manna before our eyes."
The lesson is strikingly obvious—nothing but this monotonous manna, nothing but the bread from heaven! Oh, for the pleasures of Egypt which we left to follow God!
Forgotten was the fact that God was leading them to the promised land of freedom and plenty. Forgotten was the fact that the pleasures of Egypt were inseparably connected with a bondage and servitude that had no end but death.
Do we sometimes question the value and necessity of the monotonous, flesh-wearying bread from heaven, and seek to enliven ourselves with a little jaunt into the pleasures of Egypt?
God is not mocked. What was His answer to the Israelites?—
"The Lord will give you flesh until it COME OUT AT YOUR NOSTRILS, and it be loathsome unto you."
A grievous plague followed and before they left that spot to continue their journey,
"And Moses called the name of that place 'The Graves of Lust,' because there they buried the people that lusted" (Num. 11:34).
Bro Growcott - BYT 4. 32
5 We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely [Mitzrayim at no cost]; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:
It is perhaps significant that there are six things enumerated, as being remembered, for six is the number of flesh.
"Which we did eat in Egypt freely"
...the people overlooked the anguish of their slavery, and the bitterness of Egyptian legislation. They exaggerated the benefits of Egypt, and their own restrictions... treating what Yahweh had done for them with contempt.
In short, their complaint really implied that they considered that what Yahweh provided was not good enough!
The Christadelphian Expositor
Is our lot a heavy one?
Then let us not murmur but go to God and lay the matter before Him. It may be that He will alter it. God has never complained because man has besought deliverance from trouble. The complaint of God has been that man has avoided referring the trouble to Him, or has turned rebellious when it has not been immediately removed.
The faithless wilderness wanderers are a warning to us in this matter. They called not on God in their trouble, but unreasonably and instantly resented it. Let us note the lesson of the narrative—
"When the people complained it displeased Yahweh" (Num. 11:1).
Surely not one of us is desirous of displeasing God. Then let us cultivate patience and contentment under trial. Is it strange that God should be displeased when His people murmur at the way in which He leads them to everlasting life and happiness?
Does He not care for them? Is He indifferent to their present and ultimate well-being? Let us open our minds and not act childishly. Truly, grumbling saints are despisers of God. The psalmist realised that affliction was good (Psl. 119:67, 71). But whether we realise it or not let us believe it.
If we indulge in Israel's sin we shall surely fail of the promised goodness.
"Do all things without murmurings and disputings" (Phil. 2:14).
The only safe-guard in the case is to recognise God in all our affairs. All the holy men of old did this, and as a result were enabled to unfalteringly fulfil the trying mission of their lives—to endure the difficulties of their probation with contentment and unswerving patience.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, July 1888
6 But now our soul [nefesh] is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
They also rejected the true bread of life when he came.
Which of us does not grow weary
The people could cook and serve it in various ways: but still it was always
....manna; and the people grew tired of it, so tired that they grew vexed; and so vexed, that they cried like children in their tent doors when they remembered the fish, the cucumbers, the leeks, and the garlic that they had in Egypt.
God was angry with the people because of their murmuring on this head. Was it not natural that the people should tire of always eating the same thing? We cannot but feel that it certainly was natural, and we cannot help feeling sorry for them, as they stand crying in their tent doors. But was it quite excusable? Here is another question. They had evidence of a very palpable kind that they were in God's hands; they ought, therefore, to have submitted cheerfully to whatever He required of them, knowing His power and His wisdom and goodness.
They ought to have received with contentment the form of food provided for them, even if it had been quite objectionable, which it was not. There was in fact an object in subjecting them to this disciplinary diet. Moses explained it afterwards in the rehearsal on the plains of Moab.
"The Lord thy God...humbled thee and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know: that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord."
The effect of the prolonged and practical lesson of the manna was visible in the character of the host that entered the land under Joshua. There has been no such docile and godly and circumcised generation of Israel from that day to this; and will not be till their children have been put through a similar experience prior to their reinstatement in the land at the coming of Christ.
We have the spiritual counterpart of this episode in the experience of the saints in probation. They have been delivered from an Egypt: They are going through a great and terrible wilderness: They have received a law for their guidance: and they have their food appointed. It is manna-manna from heaven-Christ eaten by faith-eaten daily and richly; and there is an interdict on the rich foods of Egypt:
"the cares, the riches, the pleasures of this world."
It is rigorous regimen. It is a course of self-denial to which no man would submit without a reason. But there is a reason, though the command is itself sufficient of a reason. We are being prepared for Divine use afterwards. We are being "made fit" for the kingdom of God.
... If our way is restricted, if our lives are dull, if our principles are inconvenient, if our pleasures are shut up to the things connected with the truth, it is only for a time, and it is for a well-defined purpose. The time will soon be over: the purpose will be served.
7 And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium [white gum resin].
...the comparison with coriander seed is for size...This description of manna can be compared with that given in Exod. 16: 14,31 -
...a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground...And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
... The word "colour" is the Hebrew word eye, and suggests the appearance of it.
The Christadelphian Expositor
16 And Yahweh said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.
17 And I will come down and talk with thee there: and 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.
It should be noted that this is a completely different incident and arrangement from the appointment of captains of thousands, hundreds and tens to judge the people, though both are similar complaints by Moses.
God promised an abundance of meat for a whole month, so that it would surfeit and nauseate them. Even Moses was incredulous, and questioned how it could possibly be done. This gives us an insight into Moses - a man of great faith and dedication, but still struggling with the natural limitations of the flesh.
We must learn, we must believe - that with God all things are possible. Moses was rebuked, but not punished. There is a difference between a struggling faith and a rebellious unbelief.
God gave Israel the meat they cried for, to manifest His power, but He also smote them with a very great plague. And they called the place Kibroth-hattaavah - the graves of lust - summing up the whole natural history of mankind, that toward which all fleshly things tend - the graves of lust.