Thursday, March 4, 2010

Numbers 10 & 11

Chapter 10

Moses is instructed to make silver trumpets to call people together. He's given instructions on how to use them: when both are blown, it's worship time, if only one is blown, the tribal leaders are to gather, one alarm: the eastern army, two alarms: southern army is to gather. Aaron and his sons are the chief trumpeters. If they are attacked, they can trumpet for god. Other occasions for trumpeting: feasts, funerals, the first day of the month, over burnt and peace offerings.

New story: One day, the cloud lifts from the temple and goes to Paran. They leave in tribal order, taking the tabernacle. Only Hobab, Moses' brother-in-law, doesn't want to go, preferring to return to Midian. Moses tries to convince him to stay, flattering his knowledge of desert camping, and promises him divine rewards. Moses also asks god to scatter their enemies in their wake.

Chapter 11

If you don't want to read, you can watch a summary of this chapter here. Note the Christian responders, who can only say 'You're taking this story out of context!' as he describes the entire chapter. Also note they don't provide any context themselves.

Some people start complaining and god burns them to death. Jerry insists it was only the shrubs or possibly the tents, but the text says the fire of the LORD burn among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp (v. 1) and this is the definitive version, as far as many of his ilk are concerned. They complain to Moses, who asks god to stop.

Next, they bitch about not having any meat or fresh vegetables, only elven bread manna. Moses is also frustrated, and asks god for meat for the people. God tells him to gather 70 tribal elders for a chat. He also promises meat the next day, and every day for the next month, until they're sick of it. Moses makes sure to get a promise that god won't slaughter all their animals or overfish.

Moses gathers the leaders, but two of them, Eldad and Medad stay behind and start prophesying. A snitch tells Moses what's happening. Joshua asks Moses to forbid it, but Moses says he wishes more people were prophets, because he's tired of it. They go back to camp.

The next day, quails fly in from the sea in great numbers and start dropping dead around the camp. The people gather them, and as they're eating them, god unleashes a plague on the worst of them. The Israelites call the place Kibroth-hattaavah and then leave for a place called Hazeroth. For those of you keeping track, that would be two mass killings in one chapter.

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