Key verse: Numbers 11:26-29
Two men had remained in the camp, one named Eldad and the other Medad; the Spirit rested on them…and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”
Joshua son of Nun, assistant to Moses since his youth, responded, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”
But Moses asked him, “Are you jealous on my account? If only all the LORD’s people were prophets and the LORD would place his Spirit on them!” (CSB)
Monday, May 13 | Read Numbers 9
“In the context of the last plague in Egypt, the penalty for failing to observe the Passover was death at the hands of the Destroyer (Exod. 12:23). In the changed circumstances of the wilderness (and looking forward to settlement in Canaan), the penalty for nonobservance is restated: that person shall be cut off (kāraṯ) and shall bear his sin” (niśśā’ ‘āwōn). Late observance of the Passover was an extension of God’s grace to the person who was suffering temporary separation from the community. The person who was clean and present in the community at Passover time and who simply chose not to observe it (for whatever reasons) was liable to punishment.
“The exact meaning of the phrase be cut off from the people has been much debated. Some have argued that it probably meant excommunication from Israel, which, at least in the wilderness period, could have meant almost certain death. Others have posited that the expression meant “to put to death judicially.” Still others have seen in it the ominous threat that, in some way, at some unknown time, God himself would destroy the offender. The probability is that, in specific contexts, the idiom could mean any of the three, especially the last.”
Tuesday, May 14 | Read Numbers 10
“The compounding of insurrection accounts would have a resounding effect on future readers and listeners as they heard the text move from the beginning of the victorious march to the successive complaints about general hardships, food supply, leader, and land. Such rebellion leads to judgment, hardship, and even death. Yet the cycle concludes with a promise and a portentous warning: God will bring them into the land eventually and bless them abundantly, but though unintentional sins may be atoned, outright rebellion and rejection of God’s commands will result in severe judgment.”
Wednesday, May 15 | Read Numbers 11
“The reason why grumbling typically starts with those who have little or no spiritual insight, those on the edge of the community, is because the root of grumbling is unbelief. The vision of the grumblers was fatally flawed. Their perspective on both the past and the present was distorted. The past suddenly became a golden age in which everything had been wonderful: “Egypt! The old country! That glorious place of fish suppers and great salads! How green was the grass in the Nile valley!” Now one might well ask, “If it was really such a wonderful place, why were they so eager to leave it? What about the harsh taskmasters of Egypt, the endless making of bricks without straw?” (Exodus 5:6-21). Their memory of the past had become strangely forgetful, developing strategic holes.’
Thursday, May 16 | Read Numbers 12
From p. 135 of Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretation, edited by Cain Hope Felder:
“In Numbers 12:1 Moses’ brother (Aaron) and sister (Miriam) castigate him for having married a Cushite (i.e., “Ethiopian”) woman (hā’išā hacūšit). Several factors point to the probability that the offensive aspect of the marriage was the woman’s black identity. In the first place, this is clearly the view expressed in the wording of the Septuagint: heneken tēs gunaikos tēs Aithopisses (on account of the Ethiopian woman). Second, God visits leprosy upon Miriam as a punishment (v. 9), and it can hardly be accidental the Miriam is described as “leprous, as white as snow.” Quite an intentional contrast is dramatized here, i.e., Moses’ black wife, accursed by Miriam and Aaron, is now contrasted with Miriam, who suddenly becomes “as white as snow” in her punishment.”
Friday, May 17 | Read Numbers 13
From the Global Study Bible notes on 13:1-19:22 and 13:25-33;
“Forty Years near Kadesh. The central section of the book of Numbers spans 40 years. During this time the Israelites lived in or near Kadesh (later called Kadesh-barnea; 32:8), a large oasis about 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Beersheba. It marked the southern limit of the land of Canaan, according to 34:4. As a result of the rebellion after the spies’ negative reports, God punished the people by making them wait 40 years to enter the land.
“The spies’ report covers the same events described in vv. 17-24. But while the earlier account is straightforward and factual, the spies’ account is vivid and exaggerated, designed to dismay the hearers. Their reference to Nephilim is most likely an excuse for their disobedience rather than an accurate report of what they saw in Canaan. The only other biblical mention of the Nephilim is before the flood.”
Saturday, May 18 | Read Numbers 14
From the Baker Illustrated Study Bible note on vv. 20-38;
“God agrees to forgive the Israelites as Moses has requested, which means that he withdraws his threat to destroy the entire nation (14:20). But it does not mean that rebellious individuals within the nation will go unpunished, in this case adding up to the entire generation of adults that he has brought out of Egypt, except for faithful Caleb and Joshua (14:22-24, 29-30). he will not kill the people outright and thereby harm his international reputation but will keep them in the wilderness, the home that they have chosen, until they all die natural deaths and their children grow up to replace them (14:31). He refuses to reward rebellion by giving a home in the promised land to disloyal people connected with him. To do that would be to send the world a wrong message about his glorious and holy character (see 14:21) and damage his purpose of blessing all nations through the descendants of Abraham (Gn 12:3; 22:18).
“To make sure the connection between the Israelites’ punishment and the scout fiasco will be remembered, the extra time in the wilderness will be forty years, a year for each day that the scouts explored Canaan (14:32-35). The ten faithless scouts, who are especially culpable, immediately die from a plague as firstfruits of death in the wilderness (14:36-38).”
Sunday, May 19 | Numbers 15
From the CSB Study Bible notes on vv. 37-41;
“The instructions in this verse were about the outward symbol for reminding the people of their covenant faith–the blue corded tassels attached to the corners of their garments (Dt. 22:12). This practice was followed in the time of Jesus and remains a tradition among orthodox Jews today.
“The words this way you will remember and obey all my commands provide a parallel to the phraseology of chaps. 1-10: that the people or Moses did according to all that the Lord commanded.
“The declaration I am the LORD your God resonates with covenant overtones, calling to mind the initial words of Moses’s encounter with God in Ex 6:2-8 and the introduction to the Ten Commandments in Ex 20:2.”