Chapter ten describes the making of silver trumpets to be used to notify all the people of important events such as when to move out. It is understandable that with such a large group of people they couldn’t just announce something. 10:11 announces the departure from Sinai! They finally get to move out and head for their destiny. If only that destiny wasn’t to die in the wilderness before the next generation could enter the land. Moses asked Hobab, his brother-in-law (but see Judges 4:11) to come with him but he declined. “Moses said, ‘Please do not leave us. You know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you can be our eyes’” (10:31). I’m a little confused at this point because we have been told repeatedly that they will stop when the cloud of the Lord stops. How does this relate to Hobab’s knowledge of the wilderness? Do they need a local guide to help them when they have God Almighty leading them?
Numbers 11 is a depressing chapter. It begins with the people complaining about their hardships and fire from the Lord destroying them. It progresses to complaints about their food and how much better things were in Egypt! They were tired of eating manna. This reminds me of the Keith Green song, So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt. The scene is quite bleak: “Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents” (11:10). Moses is despondent and complains to God, crying out “If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me” (11:15). WOW! And we think we have problems. God tells Moses to select 70 people to help him and God will place some of the power of his spirit on them. The people prepared and God’s Spirit fell on the leaders and they prophesied. Then God send oodles of quail to satisfy their lust for meat. Along with the quail came plague and many died. Perhaps it was H1N1 avian flu.
Chapter 12 opens with Miriam and Aaron deriding Moses because of his Cushite wife. She would have been African and thus dark skinned. God came and demanded to know why they had spoken against his friend Moses. The punishment for Miriam is fitting in that her skin turned as white as snow with disease. It’s like he’s saying, “If you want to be white, I’ll make you really white and see how you like that.” John Piper wrote an article on interracial marriage based on this passage. Moses pleaded for Miriam and God healed her but she was unclean for a week.