I had the Bible reading tonight. [now a few weeks ago.] It is a good one, too, not one of those Leviticus jobs that evoke all the emotion of reading a grocery list. Numbers 11:1-15, in which the Israelites start bellyaching over how good the chow was in Egypt. The trick here is not to overact. #midweekmeeting.
There was an Italian circuit overseer who used to draw out, savor, and caress the garlic of Numbers 11:5. “How fondly we remember the fish that we used to eat without cost in Egypt, also the cucumbers, [and]...the GARLIC!” Will I? Am I Italian? Now if the verse had said coffee... I would outdo the Italian brother, launch myself into the air, and come down on a cloud of ecstasy like that cartoon dog.
In the breakout rooms afterward there was a lot of chitchat about the Bible reading. Since I had given it, I was more up on those verses than otherwise.
Moses’ complaint to Jehovah—whoa! What freeness of speech. It almost comes across as “wild talk:” “Have I myself conceived all this people?”—it is almost a rant—“Is it I who have given them birth, so that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, just as the male nurse carries the suckling,’ to the soil about which you swore to their forefathers? From where do I have meat to give to all this people? For they keep weeping toward me, saying, ‘Do give us meat, and let us eat!’”
But God just absorbs it, because Moses is on the edge: “So if this is the way you are doing to me, please kill me off altogether, if I have found favor in your eyes, and let me not look upon my calamity.” If he’s ready to off himself, this is not the time to counsel him on decorum. Instead, God starts up the process that will take much of the load off Moses.
So what if you are the teacher having charge of a truly rotten group of students—they misbehave at the drop of a pin, and they are doing so when the principal walks in. You don’t think that will cause you plenty of stress? As though, even though you know you did your best, maybe you are somehow responsible for their unruliness; maybe you could and should have done more. It’s not a breeze for you either when the principal is glowering over the class. You’re a little scared of him, too. I mean, you want to show him an orderly classroom, not one that is in full mutiny.
I love this one: (vs 10): “And Jehovah’s anger began growing very hot, and in the eyes of Moses it was bad.” What is bad? That the people are whining like babies, or that he sees Jehovah is going to blow over it? And when he does, it’s going to blow up right in Moses’ face, for he is the one given responsibility for these characters. No wonder he cries out, “I am not able, I by myself, to carry all this people, because they are too heavy for me.”
The above rendering is from the Reference NWT Bible, and I read the entire passage from this version by mistake. I am always changing the app back and forth to different Bibles and then I forget to change it back again. But I think here the rendering is better than the “improvement.” For the 2013 version just says in verse 10 that Moses was “displeased.”
“And Jehovah became very angry, and Moses was also very displeased.” It is not as good. They simplified it too much. The new rendering doesn’t preserve Moses’ unease that here the people are carrying on outrageously and maybe somehow it is his fault.
It couldn’t have been a piece of cake for Moses to “fear God” and yet be him immediate link to the Israelites. Yes, I know how we spin “fear God” as fear of displeasing him. I have no problem with that, but the fear of displeasing him also must way heavily on anyone having such close interactions with the Most High. I mean, suppose you express puzzlement as to where the meat to feed these characters is going to come from. “The hand of Jehovah is short, is it?” comes the answer. I’m just glad it was Moses, and not me. Of course, there is a good reason it was Moses and not me, but that still doesn’t mean the stress on Moses might not have come solely from the disobedient people.
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