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Numbers 11:10-15

Context
Moses’ Complaint to the Lord

11:10 1 Moses heard the people weeping 2  throughout their families, everyone at the door of his tent; and when the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly, Moses was also displeased. 3  11:11 And Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you afflicted 4  your servant? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that 5  you lay the burden of this entire people on me? 11:12 Did I conceive this entire people? 6  Did I give birth to 7  them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your arms, as a foster father 8  bears a nursing child,’ to the land which you swore to their fathers? 11:13 From where shall I get 9  meat to give to this entire people, for they cry to me, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat!’ 10  11:14 I am not able to bear this entire people alone, 11  because it 12  is too heavy for me! 11:15 But if you are going to deal 13  with me like this, then kill me immediately. 14  If I have found favor in your sight then do not let me see my trouble.” 15 

1 sn Moses begins to feel the burden of caring for this people, a stubborn and rebellious people. His complaint shows how contagious their complaining has been. It is one thing to cry out to God about the load of ministry, but it is quite another to do it in such a way as to reflect a lack of faith in God’s provision. God has to remind the leader Moses that he, the Lord, can do anything. This is a variation on the theme from Exodus – “who am I that I should lead….”

2 tn The participle “weeping” is functioning here as the noun in the accusative case, an adverbial accusative of state. It is explicative of the object.

3 tn Heb “it was evil in the eyes of Moses.”

4 tn The verb is the Hiphil of רָעַע (raa’, “to be evil”). Moses laments (with the rhetorical question) that God seems to have caused him evil.

5 tn The infinitive construct with the preposition is expressing the result of not finding favor with God (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 12-13, §57). What Moses is claiming is that because he has been given this burden God did not show him favor.

6 sn The questions Moses asks are rhetorical. He is actually affirming that they are not his people, that he did not produce them, but now is to support them. His point is that God produced this nation, but has put the burden of caring for their needs on him.

7 tn The verb means “to beget, give birth to.” The figurative image from procreation completes the parallel question, first the conceiving and second the giving birth to the nation.

8 tn The word אֹמֵן (’omen) is often translated “nurse,” but the form is a masculine form and would better be rendered as a “foster parent.” This does not work as well, though, with the יֹנֵק (yoneq), the “sucking child.” The two metaphors are simply designed to portray the duty of a parent to a child as a picture of Moses’ duty for the nation. The idea that it portrays God as a mother pushes it too far (see M. Noth, Numbers [OTL], 86-87).

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

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

11 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.

12 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.

13 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.

14 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.

15 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.



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