Original Publication Date
April 8, 2016
Jan 10, 2023 1:35 AM
NumbersChapter StudyMosesAaronMiriamEthiopiaRelationshipsFood and Diet
This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on April 8, 2016
The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.
On the 20th day of the second month in the second year, the Israelites leave Sinai. From Sinai, God leads them into the wilderness of Paran. The Israelites begin their journey in the order God assigned:
- Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun
- Sons of Merari and sons of Gershon (with the tabernacle)
- Rueben, Simeon, and Gad
- Sons of Kohath (with the sanctuary)
- Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin
- Dan, Asher, and Napthali
During this journey, we will see Moses' siblings’ disdain for his choice of wife.
At this point in the books of law, I started to notice that time is described in reference to the exodus in the same manner that we refer to time in reference to Jesus' birth. I wonder if this continues, making the Israelite calendar year a constant reminder of God's favor.
The Israelites have two ways of looking at the calendar; the spiritual calendar operates based on this concept. The first month of the religious year is the same as the month they fled Egypt. There is also a civil calendar which starts with Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets).
Moses' Father-In-Law, Hobab, and Prayer
The issue of who exaclty is Moses' father-in-law is discussed in Jehtro vs. Reuel (vs. Hobab).
Hobab is identified as the son of Raguel (a variant spelling of Reuel), who is Moses' father-in-law. Moses invites Hobab to join the Israelites. He promises Hobab that the Israelites will be good to him and whatever blessings God gives Israel, Hobab would receive as well. Nonetheless, Hobab rejects Moses' offer and states that he will return to his people.
After Hobab leaves, the Israelites make a three day journey. During their journey, the ark goes before the people. While the ark was in motion, Moses would pray for God to scatter their enemies and while ark rested, he prayed God would return to the Israelites. The prayer for His return shows Moses' knowledge that they could only win with God leading them.
Complaints of the People
For what seems like the millionth time, the Israelites begin to complain. Like in Exodus 16, the people complain about food—they don't want God's manna, they want flesh like before. This angers God, yet in the end He still ends up granting the Israelites their wish. This is another example where we can clearly see parallels between God the Father and earthly parents. Often our earthly parents become angry with us, but still provide for us because they love us.
The main reason for God's anger lies in the Israelites' ungratefulness. They remember Egypt's food and wish for flesh (what we call meat, today) and in this, they imply that captivity in Egypt is better than freedom with God. Not only is this backward thinking, but it is something that even today we should be mindful of. God's path, while it may lead to ultimate freedom, is not going to be the easiest, most fun, or luxurious path. We have to trust God and keep our eyes forward when He removes us from a situation.
When God becomes angry at the Israelites, He sets fire upon them until Moses' prayer quenches the fire. Today, God may not set fire upon us when He is angry, but that doesn't mean He won't withdraw from our lives to make things more difficult. Because of the Israelites' doubt, God's anger and reaction, Moses names the place Taberah, which means burning.
In addition to rousing God's anger, the Israelites' discontentment upsets Moses. As their leader, he feels he should be able to provide and keep the people happy; he doesn't want the burden of them being as his children. In this predicament, he feels as though he doesn't have God's favor because he can't give them what they want. Remember, what we want is not always what God wants for us.
In despair, Moses asks God to kill him so that he can't see his wretchedness—he must have been terribly upset to ask for such a thing. I imagine this journey was particularly grueling for Moses who spent the first 40 years of his life as a prince of Egypt. Instead of complying with Moses' death wish, God appoints 70 elders to help Moses. We see here an implicit condemning of suicide, as God proves it is better to soldier on with help than to give up. The elders were to share the burden so that Moses did not have to do everything alone.
Back in 2016 I mentioned “an implicit condemning of suicide” but I didn’t go in to depth about this. There is so much content in the Word about depression (including examples of men of God going through depression). I have added this topic to my to-cover list. I do want to add here, however, that while I think it’s likely that YHWH views suicide as self murder, only the person and YHWH know the heart of the matter. Therefore I do not think you can make assumptions about the eternal state of a person based on the act of suicide.
After all this, God orders the people to sanctify themselves because He will give them flesh to eat, however, He also vows to give them so much flesh they become sick of it. Moses worries they will have to slaughter whole flocks to accomplish this, but God reminds Moses His Hand can do anything. God gives the Spirit to the elders once Moses gathers them together, and they begin to prophesy—even Eldad and Medad who did not go before God. This proves God can be in multiple places at one time as He was able be with Eldad and Medad at the same time He was with the other elders. After sharing His Spirit, God upholds His promise and sends quail. As they eat the quail, God also sends a plague. Moses calls the burial ground for those who died in the plague Kibroth-Hattavah.
God's Anger Toward Miriam and Aaron
At some point, Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses because of his marriage to an Ethiopian woman. One question many people have is wether this woman is Zipporah the Midianite or a second wife. Some argue Zipporah was both Midianite and Ethiopian (as I am both Black and American), concluding that it is Zipporah that Moses' siblings do not like. Others believe Zipporah died and the Ethiopian mentioned was actually Moses' second wife.
Ethiopia is synonymous with Cush, therefore Miriam and Aaron were complaining about Moses' marriage to a descendant of Ham through his son Cush. Contrarily, a Midianite would be a descendant of Midian, the son of Abraham and Keturah. The only way Zipporah could be both Midianite and Ethiopian would be for her mother being Ethiopian or for them to be Midianites living in Ethiopian. Moses' father-in-law is described as the priest of Midian, implying he is a Midianite.
One writer states that Zipporah was not as faithful to God as Moses, and suggests this is why he remarried. I'm not sure how they came to this conclusion: not only is her father a priest, but it is Zipporah who realizes their son was to be circumcised and does so. How would she have such knowledge if her people weren't worshipping the one true God?
The most logical bit of evidence suggests that Zipporah died and he took a second wife. This assumption also explains why Miriam and Aaron were only just then noticing whom he had decided to marry.
God is not happy with Aaron and Miriam's behavior. He reminds them that Moses is a prophet; they were not to speak against him. As punishment, God afflicts Miriam with leprosy for 7 days. Aaron however does not receive this curse. I assume it is because as high priest, to punish him in such a manner would actually be God punishing the whole of Israel (Aaron would have been unable to perform his priestly duties). Both brothers plead with God to heal Miriam, but God is adamant that she suffer for 7 days.
Note, this passage confirms God's approval of “interracial” marriages.
References and Footnotes
- "Taberah". Bible Study Tools. 2016
- Zondervan. "Zipporah". Bible Gateway. 1988
- Jacobs, Joseph and Ochser, Schulim. "Zipporah". Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906
- "Who was Moses’ wife? Did Moses have more than one wife?". GotQuestions.org. 2016
Other Pages to View
1 Kings 11: Solomon’s Downfall
1 KingsChapter StudyEgyptSolomonRelationshipsIdolatry
Ecclesiastes 4: Don’t Go Through Life Alone
Chapter StudyPsalmsBook 1Book 2PovertyRelationshipsBaptismMoney
Chapter StudyPsalmsBook 1DeathPovertyMessianic ProphecyJobJosephAbrahamMosesPatiencePeace
Proverbs 10-22: More of Solomon’s Wisdom
ProverbsChapter StudyPrideWisdomAngerRepentance and ForgivenessWomenJusticeLyingCommandmentsRelationshipsMoney
Homosexuality in the Bible
LeviticusSexual ImoralitySexual AssaultRelationshipsLawCommandmentsLove
Job 2-3: A Conversation with Friends
JobChapter StudyMental HealthRelationshipsDeath
Job 4-14: The First Responses
Joshua 20-21: Cities of Refuge
Deuteronomy 1-4: The First Address
DeuteronomyChapter StudyMoabAmmonFalse Deities and ProphetsCommandmentsMosesRepentance and ForgivenessJoshua (person)
2 Chronicles 10-12: Rehoboam & The Division of Israel
2 ChroniclesChapter StudyRehoboamSolomonJeroboamEgyptAaronDivision of Israel
1 Samuel 18-27: Saul Tries to Kill David
1 SamuelChapter StudyJonathanRelationshipsSaulDavidPhilistineMurderMichal
1 Samuel 25: Samuel’s Death and David’s Wives
1 SamuelChapter StudyAbigailRelationshipsWomenDavidSamuelMichal
1 Samuel 8-10: A King for Israel
1 SamuelChapter StudyRelationshipsProphecySaulLeadership
1 Samuel 16: David is Anointed
1 SamuelChapter StudySaulDavidSamuelRelationships
Numbers 28-29: Feasts & Offerings
NumbersChapter StudyFeasts & Holy DaysSacrifice
Numbers 31: Spoils of War
NumbersChapter StudyClean and UncleanFalse Deities and ProphetsMidian
Numbers 33: Record of the Journey
NumbersChapter StudyCanaanFalse Deities and Prophets
Numbers 22-24: Balak, Balaam, and the Talking Donkey
NumbersChapter StudyMoabAnimalsMessianic ProphecyProphecyFalse Deities and Prophets
Song of Solomon 5-7: The Second Night of Separation
Song of SolomonChapter StudyRelationshipsSymbolismMetaphorLoveProphecyMessianic Prophecy
Song of Solomon 3-5: The Wedding
Song of SolomonChapter StudySymbolismMetaphorLoveRelationships
Song of Solomon 3: Night of Separation
Song of SolomonChapter StudyRelationships
Song of Solomon 1-2: The Love Story Begins
Song of SolomonChapter StudyRelationshipsSolomonRacismPatience
Song of Solomon 2: Spring Invitation
Song of SolomonChapter StudyRelationships
Isaiah 11: The Lion and the Lamb
IsaiahChapter StudyGenealogyProphecyMessiahNew JerusalemAnimalsFood and Diet
Isaiah 4: Judgment of Israel (Pt. 3)
Cross Referencing the Books of Law
Deuteronomy 5-26: The Second Address (Part 3)
DeuteronomyChapter StudyTithesRelationshipsServants and SlavesSexual AssaultWomenCommandments
Numbers 26-27: The Second Census
NumbersChapter StudyMosesJoshua (person)Leadership
Numbers 25: Idolatry & Israel
NumbersChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsMoabRelationships
Numbers 34: Boundaries of Israel Numbers 20-21: The Journey Continues
Numbers 20: Miriam’s Death
NumbersChapter StudyDeathClean and UncleanSacrifice
NumbersChapter StudyIntercessory PrayerAaronPriesthoodTithesDeath
NumbersChapter StudyJoshua (person)CalebNephilim and Giants
Numbers 7: Tribal Princes’ Offerings
Numbers 8-10: Instructions
Numbers 5: A Few Laws and a Test
Numbers 3-4: Levite Duties Numbers 6: The Nazarite Vow
NumbersChapter StudySamsonJohn the BaptistOaths and VowsSamuelFastingClean and UncleanPaul
Numbers 1-3: The First Census
Numbers 35: Special Cities
NumbersChapter StudyMurderPovertyLeviRepentance and Forgiveness
Numbers 36: Female Inheritance Leviticus 21-22: More on Priests
Leviticus 19-20: Righteousness
LeviticusChapter StudyAppearanceCommandmentsLawSacrificeAdulteryWitchcraftFood and DietFeasts & Holy DaysJustice
Leviticus 11-12: Clean and Unclean
LeviticusChapter StudyClean and UncleanFood and Diet
Leviticus 6-7: Offering Laws
Exodus 33-35: Repentance & The Second Set of Tablets
ExodusChapter StudyRepentance and ForgivenessClean and UncleanIsraelIntercessory PrayerFeasts & Holy DaysMoses
Exodus 32: The Golden Calf
ExodusChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsMosesAaronCommandmentsRepentance and ForgivenessIntercessory Prayer
Exodus 24-27: The Tabernacle
Honor Thy Mother and Father
Exodus 18-20: God’s Commandments
Exodus 14-17: Leaving Egypt
ExodusChapter StudyEgyptPhilistineMosesMiriamWomenWildernessWaterAmalakitesNames of GodFire
Exodus 5-13: The Ten Plagues (and Passover)
PlaguesEgyptExodusMosesAaronPassoverFeasts & Holy DaysChapter StudyGenocide
Exodus 2-4: Raising Up A Leader
Would You Rather?: Fatherly Treatment
Would You RatherEdomJacobJosephGenesisRelationshipsTheft
You Are What You Eat: Introduction
Food and DietClean and Unclean
2 Samuel 11-12: David and Bathsheba
2 SamuelChapter StudyRelationshipsAdulteryJudgementDavidMurder
Ezra 9-10: Confessions of Sin
Judges 3: Othniel and Ehud
JudgesChapter StudyCanaanFalse Deities and ProphetsRelationshipsCaptivityBenjaminMoabAmalakites
JudgesChapter StudyRelationshipsSamsonWomenPhilistineOaths and VowsDan
2 Samuel 5-10: David’s Military Success
2 SamuelChapter StudyDavidRelationshipsMessianic Prophecy
Ruth 3: The Redeeming Relative
Ruth 2: The Fields of Boaz
Ruth 1: In the Land of Moab
2 Samuel 13-19: Absalom’s Coup
Chapter Study2 SamuelDavidRelationshipsTamarWomenSexual ImoralitySexual AssaultRepentance and Forgiveness
You Are What You Eat: Colossians 2
Food and DietClean and UncleanColossians
You Are What You Eat: Romans 14
Food and DietClean and UncleanRomans
You Are What You Eat: Acts 10
Food and DietActsPeterDiscipleship
You Are What You Eat: 1 Timothy 4:1-7
1 TimothyTimothyFood and DietClean and Unclean
You Are What You Eat: Mark 7:15
Food and DietClean and UncleanMatthewMark
You Are What You Eat: Isaiah 66
Food and DietClean and UncleanIsaiahProphecy
Why ‘The Bride of Christ’ is the Perfect Description
Would You Rather?: Marriage vs. Singleness
Would You RatherRelationshipsLoveRepentance and ForgivenessHoseaPaul
PSALMS to God is a blog, podcast, and YouTube channel that discusses many topics and issues, always keeping YHWH as the anchor. Hosea 4:6 says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”—here, the aim is to always ask questions and study to find the answers. You can keep up with new content by signing up for the weekly newsletter.