The Complaints of the People
1 Soon the people began to complain about their hardship in the hearing of the LORD, and when He heard them, His anger was kindled, and fire from the LORD blazed among them and consumed the outskirts of the camp. 2 And the people cried out to Moses, and he prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. 3 So that place was called Taberah, a because the fire of the LORD had burned among them.
4 Meanwhile, the rabble among them had a strong craving for other food, and again the Israelites wept and said, “Who will feed us meat? 5 We remember the fish we ate freely in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. 6 But now our appetite is gone; there is nothing to see but this manna!”
7 Now the manna resembled coriander seed, and its appearance was like that of gum resin. 8 The people walked around and gathered it, ground it on a handmill or crushed it in a mortar, then boiled it in a cooking pot or shaped it into cakes. It tasted like pastry baked with fine oil. 9 When the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.
The Complaint of Moses
10 Then Moses heard the people of family after family weeping at the entrances to their tents, and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly, and Moses was also displeased.
11 So Moses asked the LORD, “Why have You brought this trouble on Your servant? Why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid upon me the burden of all these people? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth, so that You should tell me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries an infant,’ to the land that You swore to give their fathers?
13 Where can I get meat for all these people? For they keep crying out to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’
14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; it is too burdensome for me. 15 If this is how You are going to treat me, please kill me right now—if I have found favor in Your eyes—and let me not see my own wretchedness.”
Seventy Elders Anointed
16 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Bring Me seventy of the elders of Israel known to you as leaders and officers of the people. Bring them to the Tent of Meeting and have them stand there with you.
17 And I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put that Spirit on them. They will help you bear the burden of the people, so that you do not have to bear it by yourself.
18 And say to the people: Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you will eat meat, because you have cried out in the hearing of the LORD, saying: ‘Who will feed us meat? For we were better off in Egypt!’ Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat. 19 You will eat it not for one or two days, nor for five or ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and makes you nauseous—because you have rejected the LORD, who is among you, and have cried out before Him, saying, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?’ ”
21 But Moses replied, “Here I am among 600,000 men on foot, yet You say, ‘I will give them meat, and they will eat for a month.’ 22 If all our flocks and herds were slaughtered for them, would they have enough? Or if all the fish in the sea were caught for them, would they have enough?”
23 The LORD answered Moses, “Is the LORD’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not My word will come to pass.”
24 So Moses went out and relayed to the people the words of the LORD, and he gathered seventy of the elders of the people and had them stand around the tent. 25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and He took some of the Spirit that was on Moses and placed that Spirit on the seventy elders. As the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied—but they never did so again.
26 Two men, however, had remained in the camp—one named Eldad and the other Medad—and the Spirit rested on them. They were among those listed, but they had not gone out to the tent, and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”
28 Joshua son of Nun, the attendant to Moses since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”
29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous on my account? I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would place His Spirit on them!”
30 Then Moses returned to the camp, along with the elders of Israel.
The Quail and the Plague
31 Now a wind sent by the LORD came up, drove in quail from the sea, and brought them near the camp, about two cubits above the surface of the ground, b for a day’s journey in every direction around the camp. 32 All that day and night, and all the next day, the people stayed up gathering the quail. No one gathered less than ten homers, c and they spread them out all around the camp.
33 But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the LORD burned against the people, and the LORD struck them with a severe plague. 34 So they called that place Kibroth-hattaavah, d because there they buried the people who had craved other food.
35 From Kibroth-hattaavah the people moved on to Hazeroth, where they remained for some time.
3 a Taberah means burning .
31 b Or up to two cubits deep ; that is, approximately 3 feet or 91.4 centimeters
32 c 10 homers is approximately 62.4 bushels or 2,200 liters.
34 d Kibroth-hattaavah means graves of craving .