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Numbers 14:2

Context
14:2 And all the Israelites murmured 1  against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died 2  in the land of Egypt, or if only we had perished 3  in this wilderness!

Numbers 14:26-35

Context

14:26 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 14:27 “How long must I bear 4  with this evil congregation 5  that murmurs against me? I have heard the complaints of the Israelites that they murmured against me. 14:28 Say to them, ‘As I live, 6  says 7  the Lord, I will surely do to you just what you have spoken in my hearing. 8  14:29 Your dead bodies 9  will fall in this wilderness – all those of you who were numbered, according to your full number, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me. 14:30 You will by no means enter into the land where 10  I swore 11  to settle 12  you. The only exceptions are Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 14:31 But I will bring in your little ones, whom you said would become victims of war, 13  and they will enjoy 14  the land that you have despised. 14:32 But as for you, your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness, 14:33 and your children will wander 15  in the wilderness forty years and suffer for your unfaithfulness, 16  until your dead bodies lie finished 17  in the wilderness. 14:34 According to the number of the days you have investigated this land, forty days – one day for a year – you will suffer for 18  your iniquities, forty years, and you will know what it means to thwart me. 19  14:35 I, the Lord, have said, “I will surely do so to all this evil congregation that has gathered together against me. In this wilderness they will be finished, and there they will die!”’”

Numbers 16:11

Context
16:11 Therefore you and all your company have assembled together against the Lord! And Aaron – what is he that you murmur against him?” 20 

1 tn The Hebrew verb “to murmur” is לוּן (lun). It is a strong word, signifying far more than complaining or grumbling, as some of the modern translations have it. The word is most often connected to the wilderness experience. It is paralleled in the literature with the word “to rebel.” The murmuring is like a parliamentary vote of no confidence, for they no longer trusted their leaders and wished to choose a new leader and return. This “return to Egypt” becomes a symbol of their lack of faith in the Lord.

2 tn The optative is expressed by לוּ (lu) and then the verb, here the perfect tense מַתְנוּ (matnu) – “O that we had died….” Had they wanted to die in Egypt they should not have cried out to the Lord to deliver them from bondage. Here the people became consumed with the fear and worry of what lay ahead, and in their panic they revealed a lack of trust in God.

3 tn Heb “died.”

4 tn The figure is aposiopesis, or sudden silence. The main verb is deleted from the line, “how long…this evil community.” The intensity of the emotion is the reason for the ellipsis.

5 sn It is worth mentioning in passing that this is one of the Rabbinic proof texts for having at least ten men to form a congregation and have prayer. If God called ten men (the bad spies) a “congregation,” then a congregation must have ten men. But here the word “community/congregation” refers in this context to the people of Israel as a whole, not just to the ten spies.

6 sn Here again is the oath that God swore in his wrath, an oath he swore by himself, that they would not enter the land. “As the Lord lives,” or “by the life of the Lord,” are ways to render it.

7 tn The word נְאֻם (nÿum) is an “oracle.” It is followed by the subjective genitive: “the oracle of the Lord” is equal to saying “the Lord says.”

8 tn Heb “in my ears.”

sn They had expressed the longing to have died in the wilderness, and not in war. God will now give them that. They would not say to God “your will be done,” so he says to them, “your will be done” (to borrow from C. S. Lewis).

9 tn Or “your corpses” (also in vv. 32, 33).

10 tn The relative pronoun “which” is joined with the resumptive pronoun “in it” to form a smoother reading “where.”

11 tn The Hebrew text uses the anthropomorphic expression “I raised my hand” in taking an oath.

12 tn Heb “to cause you to dwell; to cause you to settle.”

13 tn Or “plunder.”

14 tn Heb “know.”

15 tn The word is “shepherds.” It means that the people would be wilderness nomads, grazing their flock on available land.

16 tn Heb “you shall bear your whoredoms.” The imagery of prostitution is used throughout the Bible to reflect spiritual unfaithfulness, leaving the covenant relationship and following after false gods. Here it is used generally for their rebellion in the wilderness, but not for following other gods.

17 tn The infinitive is from תָּמַם (tamam), which means “to be complete.” The word is often used to express completeness in a good sense – whole, blameless, or the like. Here and in v. 35 it seems to mean “until your deaths have been completed.” See also Gen 47:15; Deut 2:15.

18 tn Heb “you shall bear.”

19 tn The phrase refers to the consequences of open hostility to God, or perhaps abandonment of God. The noun תְּנוּאָה (tÿnuah) occurs in Job 33:10 (perhaps). The related verb occurs in Num 30:6 HT (30:5 ET) and 32:7 with the sense of “disallow, discourage.” The sense of the expression adopted in this translation comes from the meticulous study of R. Loewe, “Divine Frustration Exegetically Frustrated,” Words and Meanings, 137-58.

20 sn The question indicates that they had been murmuring against Aaron, that is, expressing disloyalty and challenging his leadership. But it is actually against the Lord that they had been murmuring because the Lord had put Aaron in that position.



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