Numbers 11:16
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Bring Me seventy of the elders of Israel known to you as leaders and officers of the people. Bring them to the Tent of Meeting and have them stand there with you.
The Complainers, and How God Made Answer to Their ComplaintsW. Binnie Numbers 11:4-15; 31-35
The Answer of GodD. Young Numbers 11:16, 17
Dainties for the PeopleBp. Babington.Numbers 11:16-20
Helpers for MosesBp. Babington.Numbers 11:16-20
The Answer of God to the Appeals of MenW. Jones.Numbers 11:16-20
The Seventy EldersW. Walters, M. A.Numbers 11:16-20
The Seventy Elders, and How They Were Fitted for Their High OfficeW. Binnie Numbers 11:16, 17, 24, 25

1. He does not openly and directly reprove the reckless language of his servant. Both Moses and the people had sinned, but with such a difference that while God visits the people with immediate and condign punishment he stretches forth his hand to Moses, even as Jesus did to Peter sinking in the sea. God treated Moses here very much as he treated the complaining Elijah (1 Kings 19). Moses was just the sort of man who might be trusted to rebuke himself, and bitterly repent all the unjust and unbelieving thoughts, which, upon this sudden temptation, had come into his mind.

2. The first word of God tends to bring Moses to a calmer mind. It sets before him something practical and not very difficult. Left to himself, he knows not how to begin dealing with this anarchy, especially with his own mind in such a distressed state. But it was a task quite within his reach, to pick out from a limited and probably well-known circle, seventy elders, official and experienced men. As he went through this work, he would be brought to feel, and not without a sense of shame, that he had been overtaken by panic. He has talked about sucking children; he now hears that there are at least seventy elders upon whose experience and influence he can lean. We soon find out, if we only listen to God, that temporal troubles are never so bad as they seem.

3. The way in which this help was made as effectual as possible. As God had given a certain spirit to Moses, so he would give it also to these seventy assistant elders. This was a reminder that he had not afflicted his servant and frowned upon him, as he so recklessly said (verse 11). We often murmur and complain against Providence for neglecting us, when the real neglect is with ourselves in making a bad use of gifts bestowed. God never tells his people to do things beyond natural strength, without first assuring a sufficiency of power for the thing commanded. "I can do all things, through Christ who inwardly strengthens me," said Paul There is further encouragement in God's promise here, as being an illustration of how the spirit is given without measure. There was not a certain limited manifestation to Moses, so that if others shared the spirit with him, he must have less. Neither his power nor his honour were one whir diminished. The question always is, What is the need of men in the sight of God? Then, according to that need, and never coming short of it, are the communications of his Holy Spirit. Moses, instead of being poorer, was really richer, for the spirit was working in a mind to which a precious experience had been added.

4. In the sight of these directions we are reminded how Moses spoke out of a comparative inexperience of the burden. Moses said there was nothing left for him but to die. The history tells us that so far from dying, he had yet in him nearly forty years of honourable mediatorship between God and men. His proper word was, "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord" (Psalm 118:17). It is marvelous to think what some men have gone through in the way of difficulties, losses, and trials. Even the natural man has greater strength in the hour of trouble than at first he is conscious of - a great deal of trouble, when it is once fairly over, comes in the course of time to look a very small thing - and if we have God's strength, then we shall not merely endure tribulation, but glory in it. Front these words of Moses and the practical gentle reply of God, learn one great lesson - how easy it is to exaggerate our difficulties and underrate our resources. - Y.

Gather unto Me seventy men of the elders.

1. The number of the assistants.

2. Their selection.

3. The qualification imparted to them.


1. Recognises the sinful character of their appeal.

2. Demands preparation for the granting of their appeal.

3. Promises the most abundant bestowment of that which they had so passionately and sinfully desired.Conclusion: Mark well —

1. The disgusting nature of the sins of gluttony and drunkenness.

2. The necessity of firmly controlling carnal desires. Even those animal appetites which are lawful must be kept subordinate to higher things.

3. The necessity of submissiveness in prayer.

(W. Jones.)


1. A new want needed a remedy.

2. The remedy supplied.

3. The remedy for the want extraordinary.

4. The remedy had its counterpart in —

(1)The mission of the seventy disciples.

(2)The ordination of the seven deacons.


1. The Church has new needs. She must pray as Moses prayed, and realising the presence of the Holy Ghost, set herself to meet these new demands on her energies, in scattered hamlet and crowded alley, where Christ Himself would come.

2. "Would that all the Lord's people were prophets!" Each Christian is a Spirit-bearer. Is he conscious of this dignity and responsibility? Each has his special gifts.

(W. Walters, M. A.)

A gracious God and most sweet Father is moved with the complaint .and grief of His servant, pitying him and yielding presently helpers to bear this burden with him that he may have more comfort. Who would not joy in so sweet a judge, no sooner hearing but helping His servant oppressed with a froward charge. Be we faithful then in our places ever, and if we be too weak for them some way or other the Lord will help. These seventy men He will have furnished with His Spirit, never placing any to do a duty to whom He giveth not some measure of ability to do the same. But when it is said He will take off the Spirit which is upon Moses and put upon them, we may not think that He lessened His grace to Moses; but the meaning is, I will give to them of the same Spirit a portion, whereof I have distributed to him so great a measure; thine I will not diminish, and yet they shall have what shall be fit.

(Bp. Babington.)

O sweet God! Moses He will comfort by adding helpers unto him, and the people also He will satisfy in giving them flesh which they so lusted for, and that not ordinary flesh, nor gross meat, but quails, which to this day are accounted dainties. And not for a meal or two, or a day or two, but a whole month together, &c. How showeth this the truth of that Psalm which after in his time was made (Psalm 1.). Nay, how showeth this that whatsoever He will, that can He do both in heaven and earth; and therefore blessed is the man that putteth his trust in Him. Remember what you read in the holy gospel (Matthew 6:25). What dearth so great, what penury so pinching, wherein the Lord cannot help us either ordinarily or extraordinarily? Can He thus glut His great host with dainty quails, and cannot He send you and yours bread? Fear not, but cleave unto Him fast, and even past hope if the case should be such, yet under hope believe all the Scriptures, and that He will never leave you succourless that openeth His hand and filleth all things with plenteousness. Only consider that many ways He ever exerciseth the faith of His children and their patience, whose duty is to bear with contentment what He sendeth, praying to Him to remember mercy, and to lay no more upon us than we are able to bear, as He hath promised, use such means as you can by just and honest labour or otherwise; and be assured, in goodness He will step in when He seeth time.

(Bp. Babington.)

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