- 11:1-7—I’ve heard people question why a loving God would rain fire down on his people just because they’re complaining about life in the desert. However, given how much God has already done for them, how faithfully God has provided for them, and how superficial their complaints are, I think God might be showing a good amount of restraint here. Put yourself in his shoes- would you have stopped at just raining fire on them for a little bit? (the answer is no, by the way)
- 11:10-14—Here’s a good way to paraphrase what Moses in these verses: “God, I’m not their mother, why do I have to put with them? Seriously, kill me now- it’d be easier than listening to their constant whining.”
- 11:16-23—God’s response to Moses: “Oh, they’re complaining again? Fine, if they want meat, I’ll give them meat- I’ll give them more meat than they now what to do with. I’m gonna make them sick of meat and let’s see if they keep doubting me then.” (Spoiler alert: they keep doubting God anyway)
- 11:31-34—God absolutely covers the ground with quail; it’s a ridiculous amount of quail. It’s literally so much quail that the Israelites have to work 24/7 to gather it all. Then, just to remind them how much they’ve ticked him off, God strikes them with a plague while they’re eating the quail (possibly a food-borne illness they contracted from eating the ridiculous amount of quails). The moral of the story: When God is literally providing miraculous food for you every day after freeing you from 400 years of slavery through a series of miracles, don’t whine about the quality of the food he’s giving you.
- 12:3 Moses is traditionally believed to be the author of Numbers, which would make this verse pretty questionable. Fortunately for him, there’s no evidence for this and most scholars think that Numbers, along with Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, is the work of at least two authors, and possibly many more- ancient societies actually didn’t place much importance on authorship, even for religious or historical texts. The Greeks are the first culture to care about who wrote what, and it’s after extended contact with Greek culture that the Jews first start to assign authorship to the Torah.
- 12:6-16—Moses is the person God’s chosen to lead his people- this gives Moses a unique and special status: nobody else will be as close to God as Moses until Jesus comes. Miriam and Aaron aren’t just challenging their brother’s authority, they’re challenging God himself. God chose to work through Moses, so by challenging Moses they’re questioning God’s wisdom.
- Chapter 13—The spies are disturbed by what they see in Canaan. It’s easy to forget in modern times, but in the ancient world people who lived in more fertile areas were bigger and stronger than those who didn’t- the Canaanites had more food available to them than the nomadic Israelites, so they naturally grew bigger. It’s easy to see why the Israelites are afraid.