Numbers 11:11
And Moses said to the LORD, Why have you afflicted your servant? and why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me?
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(11) Wherefore hast thou afflicted.—Literally, done evil to: the same verb, in a different conjugation, which is rendered “displeased” in Numbers 11:10.

11:10-15 The provocation was very great; yet Moses expressed himself otherwise than became him. He undervalued the honour God had put upon him. He magnified his own performances, while he had the Divine wisdom to direct him, and Almighty power to dispense rewards and punishments. He speaks distrustfully of the Divine grace. Had the work been much less he could not have gone through it in his own strength; but had it been much greater, through God strengthening him, he might have done it. Let us pray, Lord, lead us not into temptation.The complaint and remonstrance of Moses may be compared with that in 1 Kings 19:4 ff; Jonah 4:1-3, and contrasted with the language of Abraham (Genesis 18:23 ff) The meekness of Moses (compare Numbers 12:3) sank under vexation into despair. His language shows us how imperfect and prone to degeneracy are the best saints on earth.10-15. Moses said unto the Lord, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant, &c.—It is impossible not to sympathize with his feelings although the tone and language of his remonstrances to God cannot be justified. He was in a most distressing situation—having a mighty multitude under his care, with no means of satisfying their clamorous demands. Their conduct shows how deeply they had been debased and demoralized by long oppression: while his reveals a state of mind agonized and almost overwhelmed by a sense of the undivided responsibilities of his office. Why didst thou not hear my prayer, when I desired thou wouldst excuse me, and commit the care and government of this unruly people to some other person? See Exodus 3:11 4:10. And Moses said unto the Lord, wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant?.... Or "done evil" (m) to him, that which was distressing to him, and gave him trouble; namely, setting him at the head of the people of Israel, and laying the government of them on his shoulders; which surely was doing him honour, though that is not to be expected without care and trouble; Moses does not seem to be in a good frame of spirit throughout the whole of this discourse with the Lord: the best of men are not always alike in their frames, and sometimes act contrary to that for which they are the most eminent, as Moses was for his, meekness and humility:

and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight; he had found much favour in the sight of God, to have so many wonderful things done by him in Egypt, to be the instrument of the deliverance of Israel from thence, to be the leader of them through the Red sea, to be taken up to the mount with God, and receive the law from him to give to that people; but the favour he complains of that was denied him, is, his not being excused, when he desired it, from taking on him the office he was called unto, of being the deliverer and ruler of the people, Exodus 4:10,

that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? with respect to matters heavier and more difficult; for as to lighter and lesser things, be was assisted and relieved by the officers placed over the various divisions of the people at the advice of Jethro, Exodus 18:21; government is a burdensome thing, and especially when a people are prone to mutiny and rebellion, as the people of Israel were.

(m) "malefecisti", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius.

And Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found {f} favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?

(f) Or, how have I displeased you?

11. evil entreated] An archaism, for ‘treated evil,’ ‘caused trouble to.’

found favour in thy sight] Cf. Exodus 33:12-13; Exodus 33:16-17; Exodus 34:9.Verse 11. - Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? These passionate complaints were clearly wrong, because exaggerated. God had not thrown upon Moses the responsibility of getting the people safely into Canaan, or of providing flesh for them; and apart from these exaggerations, it was a selfish and cowardly thing thus to dwell upon his own grievance, and to leave out of sight the grave dishonour done to God, and the awful danger incurred by the people. It was the more blameworthy in Moses because upon a former occasion he had taken upon him, with almost perilous boldness, to remonstrate with God, and to protest against the vengeance he threatened to inflict (Exodus 32:11-13). In a word, Moses forgot himself and his duty as mediator, and in his indignation at the sin of the people committed the same sin himself. It is a strong note of genuineness that so grave (and yet so natural) a fault should be recorded with such obvious simplicity. Compare the cases of Elijah (1 Kings 19) and of Jonah (chapter 4). The first impulse to this came from the mob that had come out of Egypt along with the Israelites. "The mixed multitude:" see at Exodus 12:38. They felt and expressed a longing for the better food which they had enjoyed in Egypt, and which was not to be had in the desert, and urged on the Israelites to cry out for flesh again, especially for the flesh and the savoury vegetables in which Egypt abounded. The words "they wept again" (שׁוּב used adverbially, as in Genesis 26:18, etc.) point back to the former complaints of the people respecting the absence of flesh in the desert of Sin (Exodus 16:2.), although there is nothing said about their weeping there. By the flesh which they missed, we are not to understand either the fish which they expressly mention in the following verse (as in Leviticus 11:11), or merely oxen, sheep, and goats; but the word בּשׂר signifies flesh generally, as being a better kind of food than the bread-like manna. It is true they possessed herds of cattle, but these would not have been sufficient to supply their wants, as cattle could not be bought for slaughtering, and it was necessary to spare what they had. The greedy people also longed for other flesh, and said, "We remember the fish which we ate in Egypt for nothing." Even if fish could not be had for nothing in Egypt, according to the extravagant assertions of the murmurers, it is certain that it could be procured for such nominal prices that even the poorest of the people could eat it. The abundance of the fish in the Nile and the neighbouring waters is attested unanimously by both classical writers (e.g., Diod. Sic. i. 36, 52; Herod. ii. 93; Strabo, xvii. p. 829) and modern travellers (cf. Hengstenberg, Egypt, etc., p. 211 Eng. tr.). This also applies to the vegetables for which the Israelites longed in the desert. The קשּׁאים, or cucumbers, which are still called katteh or chate in the present day, are a species differing from the ordinary cucumbers in size and colour, and distinguished for softness and sweet flavour, and are described by Forskal (Flor. Aeg. p. 168), as fructus in Aegypto omnium vulgatissimus, totis plantatus agris. אבטּחים: water-melons, which are still called battieh in modern Egypt, and are both cultivated in immense quantities and sold so cheaply in the market, that the poor as well as the rich can enjoy their refreshing flesh and cooling juice (see Sonnini in Hengstenberg, ut sup. p. 212). חציר does not signify grass here, but, according to the ancient versions, chives, from their grass-like appearance; laudatissimus porrus in Aegypto (Plin. h. n. 19, 33). בּצלים: onions, which flourish better in Egypt than elsewhere, and have a mild and pleasant taste. According to Herod. ii. 125, they were the ordinary food of the workmen at the pyramids; and, according to Hasselquist, Sonnini, and others, they still form almost the only food of the poor, and are also a favourite dish with all classes, either roasted, or boiled as a vegetable, and eaten with animal food. שׁוּמים: garlic, which is still called tum, tom in the East (Seetzen, iii. p. 234), and is mentioned by Herodotus in connection with onions, as forming a leading article of food with the Egyptian workmen. Of all these things, which had been cheap as well as refreshing, not one was to be had in the desert. Hence the people complained still further, "and now our soul is dried away," i.e., faint for want of strong and refreshing food, and wanting in fresh vital power (cf. Psalm 22:16; Psalm 102:5): "we have nothing (כּל אין, there is nothing in existence, equivalent to nothing to be had) except that our eye (falls) upon this manna," i.e., we see nothing else before us but the manna, sc., which has no juice, and supplies no vital force. Greediness longs for juicy and savoury food, and in fact, as a rule, for change of food and stimulating flavour. "This is the perverted nature of man, which cannot continue in the quiet enjoyment of what is clean and unmixed, but, from its own inward discord, desires a stimulating admixture of what is sharp and sour" (Baumgarten). To point out this inward perversion on the part of the murmuring people, Moses once more described the nature, form, and taste of the manna, and its mode of preparation, as a pleasant food which God sent down to His people with the dew of heaven (see at Exodus 16:14-15, and Exodus 16:31). But this sweet bread of heaven wanted "the sharp and sour, which are required to give a stimulating flavour to the food of man, on account of his sinful, restless desires, and the incessant changes of his earthly life." In this respect the manna resembled the spiritual food supplied by the word of God, of which the sinful heart of man may also speedily become weary, and turn to the more piquant productions of the spirit of the world.
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