Tuesday, September 11, 2012

LVI - Numbers 10-14 - The Second Leg of the Journey

Numbers Chapters 10 - 14  -  The Second Leg of the Journey

The first leg of Israel's journey was from Egypt to Mount Sinai, where much time was spent in organizing them into a new nation, receiving God's laws, establishing a justice system, building the tabernacle, among other necessary steps before they could proceed. 

After almost a year at Sinai, Israel began the march to Paran, which is wilderness territory
in the north central part of the Sinai Peninsula.  But take note of the first ten verses in the tenth chapter.  God instructs the Israelites to make two trumpets.  The purpose of these trumpets are to communicate with the people and/or communicate with the their military.  Doesn't seem like a big deal, but that became the standard of on-field military communication for thousands of years to come.  Even as recently as World War I, the bugal was used in the fields of battle.

Beginning in the eleventh verse of the tenth chapter, they began to break camp.  But there was a certain order that God wanted them to travel.  It says Judah went first under their banner.  Every tribe had a banner (flag) which was important as an identification for everyone.  The order of travel was:

The Ark of the Covenant
The Tabernacle
The Holy Things of the Tabernacle

This order made the tabernacle and the people well protected and was to be maintained in all of Israel's travels until they reached the Promised Land.

Chapter 11  -  Occasional grumbling takes place in a large camp such as this one.  But this chapter indicates that the complaining became continuous, causing God's anger.  The principle complaint was about food.  They were tired of eating only manna.  And they started making that tired old comment about "if they were back in Egypt, things would be better".  God showed a lot of patience for this.  Again Moses mediates to God in behalf of the people, and actually persuades God to show mercy, and makes a good case as to why God should.  {This is soooo important to remember that God hears the prayer of a righteous man and can be persuaded.  How encouraging.}  Note in vss 10-17 that
Moses tells God how weary he is in dealing with these people and their complaning.  He actually says that the burden is too much for him.  In response, God has Moses gather seventy elders to help him.  Moses was weary with good reason.  Moses was so busy and he was the type of man that felt every burden in his heart that he was exposed to.  The Lord was going to bring quails for the people to eat, so much in fact, that the people would get sick of them.  Also, God blessed the seventy elders with the Holy Spirit that they prophesied.  (similar to New Testiment)  But in verse 25 it says that they did not prophesy again.  (this is such interesting reading)   In the last five verses of chapter 11 it tells of God bringing in the quails, to the point they were three feet deep throughout the camp, and how He deals harshly with the Israelites.

Chapter 12 tells a story, seemingly parenthetically.  Simply put, Aaron and Miriam were jealous of Moses and wanted to be powerful prophets with all the benefits like their brother Moses had.  Somehow they thought they were entitled. (notice in vs 3 what it says about Moses:  "more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth."  There is a reason this was interjected at this location in the Scripture.  Aaron and Miriam wanted the glory of being a spokesperson for God, and Moses didn't want to because he thought of himself as unworthy)  God stepped in and handled this situation Himself (not so good for Aaron and Miriam)  God called them to the meeting tent.  Read verses 6-8 to see what God says to them.  Then God made Miriam's skin leprous.  So who comes to Miriam's rescue?  Moses.  He begs God to heal her and God hears the prayer of a righteous man.

Chapter 13 is really good reading.  God has Moses to send a scouting party into the land of Canaan.  There was one scout from each tribe as named in vss 4-15.  Included are two of my favorites:  Joshua of Ephraim and Caleb of Judah.  Moses told the scouts to bring back information about the people who inhabited the land and how many there were, the land itself and its level of fertility, the military strengths of the Canaanites, the stability of the cities.  So the twelve spies went into the land of Canaan and were gone forty days.  They brought back to camp much information and broght some of the fruit of the land:  a cluster of grapes so large they had to carry it on poles, pomegranates and figs.  They told of the people who inhabited the land:  The descendants of Anak who were much larger people than the Israelites, the Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites.  The Israelites were frightened as this report was given.  It sounded much too fortified for them to go in and seize the land.  It was the concensus among all the Iraelites and the scouts that they could not go to war against these people.  Then in verse 30 my man Caleb stood up and said "Let's go get our land.  We can do it."

In chapter 14 the people cried and made the old familiar comment that they would have been better off staying in Egypt than be slaughtered by the Canaanites.  They even went so far as to begin selecting a leader to take them back to Egypt.  Then Joshua and Caleb stood up and told the people that God wants them to have that land and God will deliver it to Israel.  They said in verse 9, "Don't be afraid of them.  We will devour them.  We have the Lord."  But the people talked of stoning oshuJa and Caleb.  God tells Moses that He should destroy Israel, but Moses intercedes again, using the arguement that Israel would be a laughing stock in Egypt if that happened.  Please read the remainder of chapter 14.  It's very good reading as it tells that the Lord forbids the current generation of Israel to enter the Promised Land because of their rebellion.   Noone over the age of twenty would be allowed to enter the Promised Land except Joshua and Caleb.

Next post:  Chapters 15 - 21  -  Wandering in the Wilderness


  1. This is the same Joshua that went with Moses up Mt. Sinai correct? I want to make sure I am not mixing those up.

    Chapter 12 really shows Aaron and Miriam's humanity considering Aaron was the high priest. I do find it interesting that God does not hold back these stories from His readers. Time and time again we see this as you have pointed out before.

    Do we learn more about Caleb as the story continues?

  2. Same Joshua. Much much about Joshua soon.

    Caleb, a brave warrior, is mentioned mostly in the Book of Joshua. Also mentioned in Judges and I Chronicles, but mostly in lineage.

    I always liked Joshua and Caleb both.