11:1 1 When the people complained, 2 it displeased 3 the Lord. When the Lord heard 4 it, his anger burned, 5 and so 6 the fire of the Lord 7 burned among them and consumed some of the outer parts of the camp. 11:2 When the people cried to Moses, he 8 prayed to the Lord, and the fire died out. 9 11:3 So he called the name of that place Taberah 10 because there the fire of the Lord burned among them.
1 sn The chapter includes the initial general complaints (vv. 1-3), the complaints about food (vv. 4-9), Moses’ own complaint to the
2 tn The temporal clause uses the Hitpoel infinitive construct from אָנַן (’anan). It is a rare word, occurring in Lam 3:39. With this blunt introduction the constant emphasis of obedience to the word of the
3 tn Heb “it was evil in the ears of the
4 tn The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive is here subordinated to the next verb as a temporal clause.
5 tn The common Hebrew expression uses the verb חָרָה (harah, “to be hot, to burn, to be kindled”). The subject is אַפּוֹ (’appo), “his anger” or more literally, his nose, which in this anthropomorphic expression flares in rage. The emphasis is superlative – “his anger raged.”
6 tn The vav (ו) consecutive does not simply show sequence in the verbs, but here expresses the result of the anger of the
7 sn The “fire of the
8 tn Heb “Moses.”
9 sn Here is the pattern that will become in the wilderness experience so common – the complaining turns to a cry to Moses, which is then interpreted as a prayer to the
10 tn The name תַּבְעֵרָה (tav’erah) is given to the spot as a commemorative of the wilderness experience. It is explained by the formula using the same verbal root, “to burn.” Such naming narratives are found dozens of times in the OT, and most frequently in the Pentateuch. The explanation is seldom an exact etymology, and so in the literature is called a popular etymology. It is best to explain the connection as a figure of speech, a paronomasia, which is a phonetic wordplay that may or may not be etymologically connected. Usually the name is connected to the explanation by a play on the verbal root – here the preterite explaining the noun. The significance of commemorating the place by such a device is to “burn” it into the memory of Israel. The narrative itself would be remembered more easily by the name and its motif. The namings in the wilderness wanderings remind the faithful of unbelief, and warn us all not to murmur as they murmured. See further A. P. Ross, “Paronomasia and Popular Etymologies in the Naming Narrative of the Old Testament,” Ph.D. diss., University of Cambridge, 1982.