Numbers 9-12: Passover, complaining about meat

The Lord said to Moses: Celebrate Passover on the 14th day of the first month.  If someone is unclean that day, they shall celebrate it one day later.  If someone does not celebrate it, they shall be cut off from their kin.  When I descend over the Tabernacle in the shape of a cloud, stay in your camp; when it lifts, break camp.

The Israelites break camp and march for 3 days.  They then complain bitterly to the LORD about the lack of meat.  First the LORD, then Moses, become impatient.  The LORD sends a wind to blow quail from the sea to the Israelite camp, but before they have time to eat it, he sends a very severe plague as punishment for the complaints.  Afterwards, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because his wife was a Cushite woman. The LORD personally intervenes, affirming the supremacy of Moses over other prophets, and striking Miriam with scales.  The LORD agrees to heal her, but only after she is shut out of the camp for 7 days.

Commentary:

  • In some non-Israelite societies, deities are also associated with cloudy fiery auras
  • While the previous chapters are characteristic of the Priestly source, 10:29 – 12 are characteristic of J and E.  Most of these chapters are about the journey, whereas P focuses on genealogies, priestly rituals, and regulations.
  • Cushites are from Nubia, the area south of Egypt
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