December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Now the people complained in the hearing of the LORD; and when he heard it his wrath flared up so that the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed the outskirts of the camp.
- But when the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died out.
- 1 Hence that place was called Taberah, because there the fire of the LORD burned among them.
- The foreign elements among them were so greedy for meat that even the Israelites lamented again, "Would that we had meat for food!
- We remember the fish we used to eat without cost in Egypt, and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.
- But now we are famished; we see nothing before us but this manna."
- 2 Manna was like coriander seed and had the appearance of bdellium.
- When they had gone about and gathered it up, the people would grind it between millstones or pound it in a mortar, then cook it in a pot and make it into loaves, which tasted like cakes made with oil.
- At night, when the dew fell upon the camp, the manna also fell.
- When Moses heard the people, family after family, crying at the entrance of their tents, so that the LORD became very angry, he was grieved.
- "Why do you treat your servant so badly?" Moses asked the LORD. "Why are you so displeased with me that you burden me with all this people?
- Was it I who conceived all this people? or was it I who gave them birth, that you tell me to carry them at my bosom, like a foster father carrying an infant, to the land you have promised under oath to their fathers?
- Where can I get meat to give to all this people? For they are crying to me, 'Give us meat for our food.'
- I cannot carry all this people by myself, for they are too heavy for me.
- If this is the way you will deal with me, then please do me the favor of killing me at once, so that I need no longer face this distress."
- Then the LORD said to Moses, "Assemble for me seventy of the elders of Israel, men you know for true elders and authorities among the people, and bring them to the meeting tent. When they are in place beside you,
- I will come down and speak with you there. I will also take some of the spirit that is on you and will bestow it on them, that they may share the burden of the people with you. You will then not have to bear it by yourself.
- "To the people, however, you shall say: Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, when you shall have meat to eat. For in the hearing of the LORD you have cried, 'Would that we had meat for food! Oh, how well off we were in Egypt!' Therefore the LORD will give you meat for food,
- and you will eat it, not for one day, or two days, or five, or ten, or twenty days,
- but for a whole month-until it comes out of your very nostrils and becomes loathsome to you. For you have spurned the LORD who is in your midst, and in his presence you have wailed, 'Why did we ever leave Egypt?'"
- But Moses said, "The people around me include six hundred thousand soldiers; yet you say, 'I will give them meat to eat for a whole month.'
- Can enough sheep and cattle be slaughtered for them? If all the fish of the sea were caught for them, would they have enough?"
- The LORD answered Moses, "Is this beyond the LORD'S reach? You shall see now whether or not what I have promised you takes place."
- So Moses went out and told the people what the LORD had said. Gathering seventy elders of the people, he had them stand around the tent.
- 3 The LORD then came down in the cloud and spoke to him. Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses, he bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.
- Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad, were not in the gathering but had been left in the camp. They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent; yet the spirit came to rest on them also, and they prophesied in the camp.
- So, when a young man quickly told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp,"
- Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses' aide, said, "Moses, my lord, stop them."
- But Moses answered him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!"
- Then Moses retired to the camp, along with the elders of Israel.
- 4 There arose a wind sent by the LORD, that drove in quail from the sea and brought them down over the camp site at a height of two cubits from the ground for the distance of a day's journey all around the camp.
- 5 All that day, all night, and all the next day the people gathered in the quail. Even the one who got the least gathered ten homers of them. Then they spread them out all around the camp.
- But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it could be consumed, the LORD'S wrath flared up against the people, and he struck them with a very great plague.
- 6 So that place was named Kibroth-hattaavah, because it was there that the greedy people were buried.
- From Kibroth-hattaavah the people set out for Hazeroth.
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1  Taberah means "the burning."
2  Coriander seed: see note on Exodus 16:31. Bdellium: a transparent, amber-colored gum resin, which is also mentioned in Genesis 2:12.
3  They prophesied: in the sense, not of foretelling the future, but of speaking in enraptured enthusiasm. Such manifestations of mystic exaltation occurred in the early days of Hebrew prophecy (1 Sam 10:10-12; 19:20-22) and in the first years of the Church (Acts 2:6-11, 17; 19:6; 1 Cor 12-14).
4  At a height of two cubits from the ground: exhausted by the storm, the quail could take but short, low flights, so that they were easily captured. To give food to the hungry people, God may have used the natural phenomenon of the annual migration of quail across the Sinai Peninsula. In the spring large flocks of these birds cross the Gulf of Aqabah flying toward the west; in the fall they fly back eastward from the Mediterranean. The sea mentioned here probably refers to the former body of water.
5  They spread them out: to cure by drying.
6  Kibroth-hattaavah means "graves of greed."
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