Numbers 11:21
And Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and you have said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Six hundred thousand footmen.—In Numbers 1:46 the number is stated to be 603,550; but here, as elsewhere, a round number is mentioned.

Numbers 11:21. Six hundred thousand footmen — Fit for war, besides women and children. That Moses speaks this as distrusting God’s word, is evident; and that Moses was not remarkably punished for this as he was afterward for the same sin, (Numbers 20.,) may be imputed to the different circumstances of this and that sin; this was the first offence of the kind, and therefore more easily passed by; that was after warning, and against more light and experience. This seems to have been spoken secretly; that openly, before the people; and therefore it was fit to be openly and severely punished, to prevent the contagion of that example.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.21-23. Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand … Shall the flocks and herds be slain for them, to suffice them?—The great leader, struck with a promise so astonishing as that of suddenly furnishing, in the midst of the desert, more than two millions of people with flesh for a whole month, betrayed an incredulous spirit, surprising in one who had witnessed so many stupendous miracles. But it is probable that it was only a feeling of the moment—at all events, the incredulous doubt was uttered only to himself—and not, as afterwards, publicly and to the scandal of the people. (See on [75]Nu 20:10). It was, therefore, sharply reproved, but not punished. Six hundred thousand footmen, fit for war, Exodus 12:37, besides women, children, &c. That Moses speaks this as doubting or distrusting God’s words is evident enough from Numbers 11:22,23. And that Moses was not remarkably punished for this as he was afterward for the same sin, Num 20 next to God’s good pleasure may be imputed to the different circumstances of this and that sin: this was the first great offence of this kind, and therefore more easily passed by; that was after warning, and against more light and experience. This seems to have been spoken secretly in Moses’s breast; that openly and publicly before the people, and to their scandal, and therefore it was fit to be openly and severely punished to prevent the contagion of that example. And Moses said,.... By way of objection to what God had promised, distrusting his power to perform:

the people amongst whom I am; among whom he dwelt, of whom he was a part, and over whom he was a ruler:

are six hundred thousand footmen; that were able to travel on foot, and were fit for war: this was the number of them when they came out of Egypt, Exodus 12:37; they amounted in their last numbering to 3,550 more, which lesser number is here omitted, as Aben Ezra and Jarchi observe, and only the round number given: some say that all above the six hundred thousand were destroyed by the fire at Taberah, Numbers 11:1,

and thou hast said, one will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month; this Moses could not tell how to credit.

And Moses said, The people, {o} among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month.

(o) Of whom I have charge.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. footmen] on foot. Exodus 12:37.

(III) 24b30. The Elders.

24b. and he gathered &c.] With the second half of this verse the narrative begun in Numbers 11:16-17 a is continued.Verse 21. - And Moses said. Moses had not recovered from the impatient and despairing temper into which the ill-behaviour of the people had betrayed him. He could not really have doubted the Divine power to do this, after what he had seen in the desert of Sin (Exodus 16:13), but he spoke petulantly, and indeed insolently, out of the misery which was yet in his heart. "If Thou deal thus with me, then kill me quite (הרג inf. abs., expressive of the uninterrupted process of killing; see Ewald, 280, b.), if I have found favour in Thine eyes (i.e., if Thou wilt show me favour), and let me not see my misfortune." "My misfortune:" i.e., the calamity to which I must eventually succumb.
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