Numbers 11:18
And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the LORD will give you flesh, and ye shall eat.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Sanctify yourselves against to-morrow.—(Comp. Exodus 19:10.) The Israelites were required to sanctify themselves by purification for the more immediate manifestation of the Divine presence, although their request was a sinful one, and was granted in judgment as well as—or even more than—in mercy. Comp. Psalm 106:15 : “And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.”

Numbers 11:18. Sanctify yourselves — Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel, in the way of his judgments. Prepare yourselves by true repentance, that you may either obtain some mitigation of the plague, or, while your bodies are destroyed by the flesh you desire and eat, your souls may be saved from the wrath of God. Sanctifying is often used for preparing, as Jeremiah 6:4; Jeremiah 12:3. In the ears of the Lord — Not secretly in your closets, but openly and impudently in the doors of your tents, calling heaven and earth to witness.

11:16-23 Moses is to choose such as he knew to be elders, that is, wise and experienced men. God promises to qualify them. If they were not found fit for the employ, they should be made fit. Even the discontented people shall be gratified too, that every mouth may be stopped. See here, I. The vanity of all the delights of sense; they will cloy, but they will not satisfy. Spiritual pleasures alone will satisfy and last. As the world passes away, so do the lusts of it. 2. What brutish sins gluttony and drunkenness are! they make that to hurt the body which should be its health. Moses objects. Even true and great believers sometimes find it hard to trust God under the discouragements of second causes, and against hope to believe in hope. God here brings Moses to this point, The Lord God is Almighty; and puts the proof upon the issue, Thou shalt see whether my word shall come to pass or not. If he speaks, it is done.I will take of the spirit which is upon thee - Render rather separate from the spirit, etc.; i. e. they shall have their portion in the same divine gift which thou hast.18-20. say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to-morrow, and ye shall eat flesh—that is, "prepare yourselves," by repentance and submission, to receive to-morrow the flesh you clamor for. But it is evident that the tenor of the language implied a severe rebuke and that the blessing promised would prove a curse. Sanctify yourselves, i.e. prepare yourselves, either to receive the miraculous blessings of God, the flesh you desire; or rather,

Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel, in the way of his judgments, and to receive the punishment which God will inflict upon you; for it is evident, from Numbers 18:20, that God answered them with a curse instead of a blessing. Prepare yourselves by true repentance, that you may either obtain some mitigation of the plague, or, whilst your bodies are destroyed by the flesh you desire and eat, Numbers 11:33,34, your souls may be saved from the wrath of God. Sanctifying is oft used for preparing, as Jeremiah 6:4 12:3 51:28.

In the ears of the Lord; not secretly in your closets, but openly and impudently in the doors of your tents, Numbers 11:10, calling heaven and earth to witness your cries and complaints.

And say thou unto the people,.... For what follows respects them, as what goes before regarded himself:

sanctify yourselves against tomorrow; or prepare yourselves, as the Targums of Onkelos, and Jonathan, either to receive mercies, or to meet the Lord in the way of his judgments; so Jarchi interprets it,"prepare for punishments,''for what is said should be, and what they had, was not as a blessing, but in a way of punishment:

and ye shall eat flesh; which they lusted after, wept for, and could not be easy without:

for ye have wept in the ears of the Lord; complaining of him, and which he has taken notice of:

saying, who shall give us flesh to eat? for though they so earnestly desired it, they despaired of it, and even called in question the power of God to give it:

for it was well with us in Egypt; where they had their fleshpots, as well as their cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic, Exodus 16:3; but they forgot how ill it went with them by reason of their hard bondage, when their lives were made bitter by it, notwithstanding their fleshpots, and of which there is not much reason to believe any great share came to them: like to them were their posterity in later times, Jeremiah 44:17,

therefore the Lord will give you flesh; to show his power:

and ye shall eat; to your shame and confusion, not for pleasure or profit.

And say thou unto the people, {l} Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the LORD will give you flesh, and ye shall eat.

(l) Prepare yourselves that you may be clean.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. And say thou &c.] The combination of the quail narrative with Numbers 11:16 f. has caused some such expression as And Jehovah said unto Moses to drop out from the beginning of this verse.

Sanctify yourselves] Free yourselves from ceremonial uncleanness. Cf. Exodus 19:10; Exodus 19:14 f.

Verse 18. - Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow. By certain ablutions, and by avoidance of legal pollution (see Exodus 19:10, 14, 15). The people were to prepare themselves as for some revelation of God's holiness and majesty. In truth it was for a revelation of his wrath, and of the bitter consequences of sin. There is about the words, as interpreted by the result, a depth of very terrible meaning; it was as though a traitor, unknowing of his doom, were bidden to a grand ceremonial on the morrow, which ceremonial should be his own execution. For it was well with us in Egypt. These false and wicked words, in which the base ingratitude of the people reached its highest pitch, are repeated to them in the message of God with a quiet sternness which gave no sign to their callous ears of the wrath they had aroused. Numbers 11:18Jehovah would also relieve the complaining of the people, and that in such a way that the murmurers should experience at the same time the holiness of His judgments. The people were to sanctify themselves for the next day, and were then to eat flesh (receive flesh to eat). התקדּשׁ (as in Exodus 19:10), to prepare themselves by purifications for the revelation of the glory of God in the miraculous gift of flesh. Jehovah would give them flesh, so that they should eat it not one day, or two, or five, or ten, or twenty, but a whole month long (of "days," as in Genesis 29:14; Genesis 41:1), "till it come out of your nostrils, and become loathsome unto you," as a punishment for having despised Jehovah in the midst of them, in their contempt of the manna given by God, and for having shown their regret at leaving the land of Egypt in their longing for the provisions of that land.
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