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Numbers 11:13-17

Context
11:13 From where shall I get 1  meat to give to this entire people, for they cry to me, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat!’ 2  11:14 I am not able to bear this entire people alone, 3  because it 4  is too heavy for me! 11:15 But if you are going to deal 5  with me like this, then kill me immediately. 6  If I have found favor in your sight then do not let me see my trouble.” 7 

The Response of God

11:16 8 The Lord said to Moses, “Gather to me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know are elders of the people and officials 9  over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting; let them take their position there with you. 11:17 Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take part of the spirit that is on you, and will put it on them, and they will bear some of the burden of the people with you, so that you do not bear it 10  all by yourself.

1 tn The Hebrew text simply has “from where to me flesh?” which means “from where will I have meat?”

2 tn The cohortative coming after the imperative stresses purpose (it is an indirect volitive).

3 tn The word order shows the emphasis: “I am not able, I by myself, to bear all this people.” The infinitive לָשֵׂאת (laset) serves as the direct object of the verb. The expression is figurative, for bearing or carrying the people means being responsible for all their needs and cares.

4 tn The subject of the verb “heavy” is unstated; in the context it probably refers to the people, or the burden of caring for the people. This responsibility was turning out to be a heavier responsibility than Moses anticipated. Alone he was totally inadequate.

5 tn The participle expresses the future idea of what God is doing, or what he is going to be doing. Moses would rather be killed than be given a totally impossible duty over a people that were not his.

6 tn The imperative of הָרַג (harag) is followed by the infinitive absolute for emphasis. The point is more that the infinitive adds to the emphasis of the imperative mood, which would be immediate compliance.

7 tn Or “my own ruin” (NIV). The word “trouble” here probably refers to the stress and difficulty of caring for a complaining group of people. The suffix on the noun would be objective, perhaps stressing the indirect object of the noun – trouble for me. The expression “on my trouble” (בְּרָעָתִי, bÿraati) is one of the so-called tiqqune sopherim, or “emendations of the scribes.” According to this tradition the original reading in v. 15 was [to look] “on your evil” (בְּרָעָתֶךָ, bÿraatekha), meaning “the calamity that you bring about” for Israel. However, since such an expression could be mistakenly thought to attribute evil to the Lord, the ancient scribes changed it to the reading found in the MT.

8 sn The Lord provides Spirit-empowered assistance for Moses. Here is another variation on the theme of Moses’ faith. Just as he refused to lead alone and was given Aaron to share the work, so here he protests the burden and will share it with seventy elders. If God’s servant will not trust wholeheartedly, that individual will not be used by God as he or she might have been. Others will share in the power and the work. Probably one could say that it was God’s will for others to share this leadership – but not to receive it through these circumstances.

9 tn The “officials” (שֹׁטְּרִים, shottÿrim) were a group of the elders who seem to have had some administrative capacities. The LXX used the word “scribes.” For further discussion, see R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 69-70.

10 tn The imperfect tense here is to be classified as a final imperfect, showing the result of this action by God. Moses would be relieved of some of the responsibility when these others were given the grace to understand and to resolve cases.



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