Thursday, July 20, 2017

Give us meat that we may eat!

31 Then a wind from the Lord sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day's journey on this side and a day's journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground. 32 And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail. Those who gathered least gathered ten homers. And they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. 33 While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck down the people with a very great plague. 34 Therefore the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had the craving (Num 11:31-34).

Here's a striking example of a coincidence miracle. That's a type of event which is more than natural, but less than supernatural. Quail naturally migrate. God uses wind (a natural force) to drive the quail off-course and redirect them to the Israelite camp.

What makes it more than natural is how discriminating the outcome is in time and place. It happens at just the right time at just the right place. 

If the "plague" is food poisoning, that would be another coincidence miracle, fulfilling the threatened judgment in vv19-20. That, too, is very timely. So we seem to have two coordinated events. A combination of two coincidence miracles. 


  1. I'm not really understanding what the Israelites did wrong in this case. It seems like God brought the quail for them to eat, but then when they eat it, His wrath is kindled. v34 said that they had "the craving," so maybe they were involved in gluttony?

    1. The context is earlier in the same chapter. They were griping about their monotonous diet of manna. The quail is actually punishment for their ingratitude, in reference to God delivering them from bondage as well as the miraculous provision of manna to sustain them.

    2. I was surprised that the Skeptic's Annotated Bible doesn't gave a remark on the apparent discrepancy. God promises that the people will be supplied enough meat so that they would eat for a month until "until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you" (Num. 11:19-20). Yet verse 33 states that God struck down the people "while the meat was yet between their teeth." How could that have happened? Did others continue eating even after some of them initially died from it? Wouldn't they have been afraid to partake for the first time or continue partaking? Jamieson Faucett and Brown Commentary resolves it this way:

      while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed — literally, “cut off”; that is, before the supply of quails, which lasted a month (Num_11:20), was exhausted. The probability is, that their stomachs, having been long inured to manna (a light food), were not prepared for so sudden a change of regimen - a heavy, solid diet of animal food, of which they seem to have partaken to so intemperate a degree as to produce a general surfeit, and fatal consequences. On a former occasion their murmurings for flesh were raised (Exo_16:1-8) because they were in want of food. Here they proceeded, not from necessity, but wanton, lustful desire; and their sin, in the righteous judgment of God, was made to carry its own punishment.

      Seems like a plausible resolution to the apparent discrepancy.

    3. I didn't really clarify what the discrepancy is supposed to be. It's that God said they'd eat for at least a month, yet the wording of verse 33 suggests that (many or all of) those who partook of the meat died soon afterwards (within hours or days) long before a month could have transpired.

    4. The "discrepancy" is simply a case of hyperbole. Rhetorical overstatement for emphasis. That's a standard rhetorical device.