The people complain about their misfortunes. The LORD burns down part of their camp until Moses intervenes. (1-3)
Some of the Israelites then complain about the LORD’s menu (“this manna“), remembering Egypt’s as much better. (4-9)
The people are weeping, God is angry, and Moses is upset. (10) Sounds like a Sunday morning at my house.
Moses complains to the LORD 1) about the burden of leading the people, and 2) about how he has no idea where to get meat for the people. (11-15)
God answers both complaints: 1) He will add 70 men to the leadership team, and 2) he will provide meat until they’re nauseated by the sight of it (“until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you”--what a vivid description!). (16-20)
Moses points out the flaws in God’s latter point: There are 600,000 men alone (not to mention how women and children swell that number). Slaughter the herds and flocks, and gather all the fish from the sea, and it still won't feed all the Israelites for a month. The Lord responds with a “don’t doubt my ability, and don’t doubt my word.” (21-23)
God delivers on the first promise: his Spirit comes to rest on 70 men. (24-30)
God delivers on the second promise, and big: he blows in a whole bunch of quail that drop to the ground all around the camp. (25-30)
- The extent of the quail is a day’s journey in any direction, and it’s depth is 3 feet!!! The people spend 2 days gathering and distributing the meat. The minimum amount gathered by any person is 6 bushels of quail!
- And while they are eating, God’s anger is kindled, and he strikes many of them down as they eat it. And there they are buried.
The chapter is framed by two judgments, and each judgment makes its mark with both death and a geographical name. The first place was called Taberah, which mean “burning” (3), and the second place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, which means “graves of craving” (34).