11:11 And Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you afflicted 1 your servant? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that 2 you lay the burden of this entire people on me? 11:12 Did I conceive this entire people? 3 Did I give birth to 4 them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your arms, as a foster father 5 bears a nursing child,’ to the land which you swore to their fathers?
1 tn The verb is the Hiphil of רָעַע (ra’a’, “to be evil”). Moses laments (with the rhetorical question) that God seems to have caused him evil.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 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).