Question: I found your words on the net: “Sometimes we have to dig to find the answers, and that is what God wants, He wants us to dig into His Word, that is perfect, and it will enlighten our souls.” I have been unable to discover an answer for the questions below regarding feeding Israel during their 40 years in the wilderness. If I am asked any of these questions I don’t have a ready answer. That is not good. “Oh, for some meat!” Numbers 11-4
Please help me find an answer to these questions:
1. Why did the Israelites not eat meat from their vast herds of animals? (In Exodus 16:3 the Israelites complained that they did not have enough to eat.)
2. Were Israelites tired of the “evening meal of quail” or did God stop sending it?
3. There is no mention that the “evening meal of meat” (quail) mentioned in Exodus 16:12 ever stopped. What happened to the quail God had been providing?
4. Most of the sacrificial meat (sheep, goats, cattle) was eaten by the person/family making the offering. True/False?
5. Do you agree that there were at least 2.4 million Israelites during the Exodus?
Answer: Thank you very much for your questions and I am sorry that it is taking me so long to get back to you. First, I would say that it looks like you are a very accomplished Bible scholar. I commend you on your hard work and your investigation on this passage. I see that you have keen insights that God has given you. As you know there are no contradictions in the word of God. As long as I have been studying the Bible which has been about 50 years since I was saved, I have yet to come across a mistake in the text. Oh, yes, there are things that I do not understand and have to study in more detail. There are passages that they are not sure if a “0” was dropped or not on a number, which it is either with the “0” or without it. There are great concepts such as the Holy Trinity and how this works, etc, but there are no mistakes in the Bible.
The closer we look at God’s word the more perfection we see. So with that being said let’s look at what the text might be saying. I certainly do not have all the answers, and it looks to me like you have worked very hard already yourself to find what you are looking for. The little that I have studied the text it seems that, yes, they did have some meat such as the herds that they brought out of Egypt. However, it looks like they did not eat much from these herds because they were being used for milk, wool, hair, and other by-products from the live animals. Yes, they did have sacrifices, but these were not as often as you might think, and the people did not always get a lot of this meat since some of it went to the priests. Remember each family may only have a few sacrifices a year, not all of which were animals.
As far as the quail being given every day, I had not heard that until you said it. My understanding of the Exodus 16:12-13 on the quail is that it was a one time thing. You notice it does not mention that they continued, only the manna continued as far as I can tell. It wasn’t until later when the people complained did they get some more quail.
Yes, I would agree that the number of people was what you said at least 2.4 million, so it was a tremendous miracle day in and day out that God was doing for the people so when they complained that they did not like just bread from heaven. God then gave them the meat again.
I did find this comment on the numbers passage in one of my favorite commentaries: “11: 5. Which we did eat in Egypt freely. The annual inundation of the Nile made Egypt seem like a garden to Bedouins who lived on the sterile desert. The fruits and vegetables mentioned are still common in modern Egypt and still called by the same Semitic names used in the text. 6. Our soul is dried away. Again the word for soul, nepesh, is the seat of animal appetites; it does not designate the spirit (see comment on 9:6). It is translated appetite in Prov. 23:2 and Eccl 6:7. The people had been so long on a bland diet that they began to crave (lust for) food that would stimulate their salivary glands. Nothing at all, beside this manna. This is an exaggeration common to people carried away by self-pity and their animal appetites.” (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary) So they did have some meat, but no doubt missed the fish, etc. from Egypt.
I hope this helps, again you are a sound Bible scholar so just keep digging in the word, and the Lord will give you the insight as you study. God bless you and if you want to write again please do.
Yours in Christ,
Gary T. Panell
For more information email me.
Ronny White says
How were thousands of sacrifices offered in the confined space of the temple courtyard? The Bible speaks of only one alter where the sacrifices were offered.
Gary Panell says
HI Ronny, I will look into it for you, but as I remember from the Old Testament when Solomon did a great number of sacrifices at once they had thousands of priests to organize the sacrifices. I’m not sure of all the details, but I know they managed to do this every year of the 2nd Temple. I will try to find some more details, but a good question. Thanks, Gary
Anna Houston says
Hello, I am doing the math and I can’t imagine how the Israelites fit into the promised land.
48 cities are given to the Levites, and they are told to measure between 1000 (in one sentence) and 2000 (in the next sentence) cubits of pasture land outside the city walls. Going w/ the more conservative number, 1000 cubits = 500 yards (5 football fields). 48 cities have 5 football fields’ worth of pastureland around each of them?! You just go and try to put 48 individual dots on a map of the promised land…there won’t be much space leftover after you’re done marking it…and yet, there are 11 other tribes to squeeze in? I don’t doubt Gods perfect word. I have seen his hand at work in my life but I am often trying to understand how things happened. How is was possible.
Gary Panell says
Dear Anna, First, God’s Word is perfect, that is where we start from. Next, we know there is an answer, but we have to study to find it. Even as Scripture says, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” Let me get back to you on this. Thanks, Gary
I am interested in the answers to questions from Ronney White.
Please answer and email me the answer.
Gary Panell says
Hi Haney, I do believe that they did use their herds for meat, at least for sacrifices. They had manna at that time and that would be used as their grain, no doubt, because they said it was like a grain. They wanted meat like they had in Egypt, which would be fish and foul, etc. They really had more than enough to eat, they just wanted to complain. Manna, is also called angel’s food, so there was not anything wrong with it. The problem was with the complaining heart of the people, not with what God was supplying for them. They were not going to be satisfied with what God would supply for them. Brother Gary