0 Quails - until they come out out your nose! (Num 11)

Episode 57: Quails - until they come out your nose!

(Numbers 11)

The people complain (so God burns them to death)

11 1 When the people complained, God heard it. And it displeased him. So he sent a fire to burn them to death.

2 The people cried to Moses, Moses prayed to God, and the fire was quenched.

The people complain (again) about the lack of food

4 The Israelites began lusting and wept again, saying,

Who will give us flesh to eat?

6 There's nothing at all to eat, besides this manna.

10 Moses heard the people weep, and God became very angry. Moses was also displeased.

11 Moses said to God,

Why have you afflicted me?

What did I do to deserve this job?

12 Did I conceive these people?

Did I carry them as a nursing father bears a sucking child?

13 How can I give flesh to these people?

15 If this is the way you're going to treat me, just kill me.

16 God said to Moses,

18 Say to the people,

18 You will eat flesh because you have wept in my ears, saying, "Who shall give us flesh to eat?"

19 You will eat flesh not for one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days.

20 But for a whole month, until it comes out your nostrils, and it becomes loathsome to you.

21 Moses said,

Where am I going to find enough flesh to feed 600,000 soldiers?

God said,

Has my hand waxed short? You'll see now whether my word is true or not.

Eldad and Medad

24 Moses told the people what God said, and he gathered 70 elders to the tabernacle.

25 God came down in a cloud and gave his spirit to the seventy elders, who began to prophesy nonstop.

26 But two men remained in the camp, Eldad and Medad, and began to prophesy on their own.

27 A young man ran and told Moses, saying,

Eldad and Medad prophesy in the camp.

Eldad and Medad

28 Joshua said to Moses,

Moses, forbid them!

29 But Moses said,

Heck, I wish everyone was a prophet!

God sends them quails to eat

31 A wind come up and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall in the camp, a day's journey on each side and two cubits high.

32 The people gathered the quails, each person at least ten homers.

God smites the people for complaining about the quails

33 And while the quail flesh was still between their teeth, the wrath of God was kindled against the people, and he smote the people with a very great plague.

A few more words about this episode

When the people complained (v.1)

The Bible doesn't say what the people were complaining about. Spending years wandering around in the desert following a cloud around? Not having enough food or water? Having friends and family killed for no good reason?

It doesn't say. But whatever it was, God heard it. (He had his hearing aid on.)

DWB: When the people complained, God burned them to death
What the Bible says about burning people to death

There's nothing at all to eat, besides this manna. (v.6)
This is the first mention of "manna" in Numbers. See Ex 16 (Episode 31)for the missing story.
Nursing father (v.12)
This unusual phrase is used twice in the Bible. Here and Isaiah 49:23
A day's journey on each side and two cubits high (v.31)

God coated the ground with dead quails. A meter deep within a circle 30 kilometers in radius.

How many quails would that be?

Well, let's see. The volume of a meter high cylinder with a diameter of 60 kilometers is about 3 billion cubic meters. Since there are 1000 liters in a cubic meter, that makes 3 trillion liters. If the average volume per quail was 1 liter (that would be a big quail), then there would have been 3 trillion dead quail covering the ground, a million or so for each of the several million Israelites.

Each person at least ten homers (v.32)

A homer was about 220 liters, so each person collected at least 2200 liters or 2.2 cubic meters of quails. (Which is about the volume of full-sized pickup truck.)

Since there were 600,000 men, the total daily load of quails would be about 1.3 million cubic meters. (About 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools)

If an average quail had a volume of 1 liter, then 1.3 billion quails would have been collected - which is only 0.04% of the quails that covered the ground - using the data from verse 31.

Eldad and Medad

Somehow Carole and I skipped over this very interesting section of Numbers 11.

I'm not sure how that happened, although it is something that we decided to include after first writing the text for this episode.

Anyway, be sure not to skip over it as your read this episode. It's all about prophesying and who is allowed to do it.

And as Moses said, "Heck, I wish everyone was a prophet!"

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