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Numbers 11:25-29

Context
11:25 And the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to them, and he took some of the Spirit that was on Moses 1  and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, 2  they prophesied, 3  but did not do so again. 4 

Eldad and Medad

11:26 But two men remained in the camp; one’s name was Eldad, and the other’s name was Medad. And the spirit rested on them. (Now they were among those in the registration, 5  but had not gone to the tabernacle.) So they prophesied in the camp. 11:27 And a 6  young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!” 11:28 Joshua son of Nun, the servant 7  of Moses, one of his choice young men, 8  said, 9  “My lord Moses, stop them!” 10  11:29 Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for me? 11  I wish that 12  all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”

1 tn Heb “on him”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

2 tn The temporal clause is introduced by the temporal indicator וַיְהִי (vayÿhi), which need not be translated. It introduces the time of the infinitive as past time narrative. The infinitive construct is from נוּחַ (nuakh, “to rest”). The figurative expression of the Spirit resting upon them indicates the temporary indwelling and empowering by the Spirit in their lives.

3 tn The text may mean that these men gave ecstatic utterances, much like Saul did when the Spirit came upon him and he made the same prophetic utterances (see 1 Sam 10:10-13). But there is no strong evidence for this (see K. L. Barker, “Zechariah,” EBC 7:605-6). In fact there is no consensus among scholars as to the origin and meaning of the verb “prophesy” or the noun “prophet.” It has something to do with speech, being God’s spokesman or spokeswoman or making predictions or authoritative utterances or ecstatic utterances. It certainly does mean that the same Holy Spirit, the same divine provision that was for Moses to enable him to do the things that God had commanded him to do, was now given to them. It would have included wisdom and power with what they were saying and doing – in a way that was visible and demonstrable to the people! The people needed to know that the same provision was given to these men, authenticating their leadership among the clans. And so it could not simply be a change in their understanding and wisdom.

4 tn The final verb of the clause stresses that this was not repeated: “they did not add” is the literal rendering of וְלֹא יָסָפוּ (vÿloyasafu). It was a one-time spiritual experience associated with their installation.

5 tn The form of the word is the passive participle כְּתֻבִים (kÿtuvim, “written”). It is normally taken to mean “among those registered,” but it is not clear if that means they were to be among the seventy or not. That seems unlikely since there is no mention of the seventy being registered, and vv. 24-25 says all seventy went out and prophesied. The registration may be to eldership, or the role of the officer.

6 tn The article indicates that the “young man” was definite in the mind of the writer, but indefinite in English.

7 tn The form is the Piel participle מְשָׁרֵת (mÿsharet), meaning “minister, servant, assistant.” The word has a loftier meaning than the ordinary word for slave.

8 tn The verb is בָּחַר (bakhar, “to choose”); here the form is the masculine plural participle with a suffix, serving as the object of the preposition מִן (min). It would therefore mean “[one of] his chosen men,” or “[one of] his choice men.”

9 tn Heb “answered and said.”

10 sn The effort of Joshua is to protect Moses’ prerogative as leader by stopping these men in the camp from prophesying. Joshua did not understand the significance in the Lord’s plan to let other share the burden of leadership.

11 tn The Piel participle מְקַנֵּא (mÿqanne’) serves as a verb here in this interrogative sentence. The word means “to be jealous; to be envious.” That can be in a good sense, such as with the translation “zeal,” or it can be in a negative sense as here. Joshua’s apparent “zeal” is questioned by Moses – was he zealous/envious for Moses sake, or for some other reason?

12 tn The optative is expressed by the interrogative clause in Hebrew, “who will give….” Moses expresses here the wish that the whole nation would have that portion of the Spirit. The new covenant, of course, would turn Moses’ wish into a certainty.



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