Numbers 11:1-30

The people complain

1 But the people started to complain about their problems. The Lord heard them and he became very angry. He sent fire. The Lord sent his fire to burn among them. It destroyed some parts of the camp at the edge. 2 So the people asked Moses to help them. And Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire stopped. 3 So that place was called Taberah, because the Lord's fire burned among them there.

11:1The Israelites had travelled for three days only. But already they had begun to complain.

4 Some foreign people were travelling with the Israelites. Those people wanted very much to eat better food. So the Israelites wept again. They said, ‘We want meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt. We had as much as we wanted. And we remember all the nice vegetables, cucumbers, leeks, onions and garlic. And we remember the melons. 6 But now our mouths are dry and we do not want to eat this food. There is not even anything to look at, except this manna.’ 7 The manna was like small seeds called coriander. Its colour was yellow and white. 8 The people walked about and they picked it up from the ground. They used stones to make it into flour. Or they beat it with a stick. They boiled it in pots, and they made cakes with it. The taste of the cakes was like olive oil. 9 At night, dew fell on the ground in the camp. The manna fell with the dew.

11:4When the Israelites left Egypt, some foreign people came with them. We do not know why these foreign people came with them. Perhaps some of them were slaves.

10 People in every family were crying at the doors of their tents. And Moses heard them. The Lord became very angry with the people. Moses too was not happy. 11 So Moses said to the Lord, ‘I am your servant. But you have given this problem to me! It seems that you are not pleased with me. You have given to me the hard job to be leader of all these people. 12 They are not my children! But you have said to me, “Take care of them like parents take care of their babies. Carry them to the land that I have promised to their ancestors.” 13 They are complaining to me. They are saying, “Give us meat that we can eat!” But I cannot get meat to feed all these people! 14 I cannot be the leader of all these people unless I receive help. This job is too difficult for me. 15 So if you do not want to help me, please kill me now. I do not want to continue to be so upset. So please be kind to me.’

16 So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Choose 70 leaders of the Israelites and bring them to the Tent of Meeting. You must know that they are leaders and officers that the people respect. Bring them to stand there with you. 17 Then I will come down and I will speak with you there. I will take some of the authority of my Spirit that I gave to you. I will share it with them. Then they will help you to lead the people. So you will not be the only man who is doing that job.

18 Then say to the people, “The Lord heard you when you were weeping. You said, ‘We want someone to give us meat to eat! Life was better when we were in Egypt.’ So the Lord will give you meat and you will eat it. So make yourselves clean for tomorrow, and then you will eat meat. 19 You will not eat it only for one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or 20 days. 20 You will eat it every day for a whole month! You will hate the smell of it and it will seem disgusting to you. This is because you have turned against the Lord. He is near to you and you have wept in front of him. You have said, ‘We should never have left Egypt.’ ” ’

21 Moses said to the Lord, ‘There are 600,000 men here. But you have said, “I will give to them meat to eat for a whole month.” 22 Even if we killed all our sheep and cows, we would not have enough meat for them. If we caught every fish in the sea, we still would not have enough!’

23 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Do you think that I, the Lord, do not have enough power to do this? I have promised you to do it. So now you will see me do it!’

24 So Moses went out from God's Tent and he told the people the Lord's message. He chose 70 leaders of the Israelites and he put them round the Tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud to speak to them. He took some of the authority of his Spirit that he had given to Moses. And he shared it with the 70 leaders. While God's Spirit stayed on them, they prophesied. But they did not do it again after that.

26 But two men had stayed in the camp. Their names were Eldad and Medad. They were among the men that Moses had chosen. But they had not gone to meet with God in the special Tent. God's Spirit also came on them. So they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran to Moses and he said, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’

28 Nun's son Joshua was there. Since he was a boy, he had been Moses' servant. Joshua said to Moses, ‘Moses, my master, stop them.’

29 But Moses said to him, ‘Perhaps you think that I might be jealous of them. But I would be happy if the Lord would give his Spirit to all his people. I would like them all to be prophets!’ 30 Then Moses and the leaders returned to the camp.