Monday, May 25, 2009

Why Was God Angry with Balaam?

In Numbers 22:20 God told Balaam to go with the men from Balak. Why is God angry in verse 22 when Balaam does go?

It would appear that God knew something about the attitude of Balaam’s heart that we do not. Balaam was clearly told he could not go to curse these people because they had been blessed. Yet, when presented with more tempting offers, Balaam asked again to see if God might reconsider. Perhaps God allowed Balaam to go so that he could show his displeasure for Balaam’s craving. The Bible later says that Balaam (loved the wages of wickedness–2 Peter 2:15).

–The Quest Study Bible

If So Many People Died During the 40 Years of Wandering, Where are Their Graves?

If nearly the whole adult generation of Israel died during the forty years' wandering, why is not that whole region full of their graves (Numbers 14:34-35)?

Under the nomadic conditions of the wilderness journey, with a constant shifting from one site to another, there is no way that sturdy or well constructed graves could have been made as the adult generation passed away. Shallow burials beneath the surface of the sand or gravel would have failed to preserve any of the skeletons for a very long period, even though they might have escaped disturbance by carrion-eating wild animals (which is doubtful). No excavations conducted anywhere in the world have ever exhumed identifiable burials of this type, and in the nature of the case it would be very surprising if they did.

–Dictionary of Bible Difficulties

When Did Moses Give Joshua His Name?

How could Moses be said to have given Hoshea the name Joshua in Numbers 13:16 when he has already been referred to as “Joshua” in Exodus 17:9 and 24:13?

There is no difficulty here, for the final composition of Exodus by Moses undoubtedly occurred toward the end of the forty years' wandering. Even though Joshua may not have acquired the name from Moses until later in the journey from Egypt to Canaan, nevertheless in retrospect it would have been only natural to refer to Joshua by the name he bore at the time Exodus was composed by Moses. It should be added that Yehosua‘ ("Jehovah is salvation") is virtually the same name as Hosea‘ ("salvation"), both being derived from the root yasa‘.

–Dictionary of Bible Difficulties

Where Did the Mission of the 12 Spies Begin?

Did the mission of the twelve spies start from Paran (Numbers 13:3) or from Kadesh Barnea (Numbers 20:1)?

Both statements are true. The Wilderness of Paran extends from the port of Eloth (Eilat) on the Gulf of Aqabah in a north-northeast direction across the the Nahal Paran and Har Ramon to include the site of Kadesh Barnea, which lies on the same latitude as Punon. The spies therefore set out from Kadesh, which is located in the Wilderness of Paran (Numbers 13:26: “in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh").

–Dictionary of Bible Difficulties

Was Moses Really Humble?

How can Numbers 12:3, with its emphasis on Moses' humility, be an authentic comment from Moses' own pen?

One scholar, Haley (Alleged Discrepancies, p. 248), makes this observation with regard to this:
“Moses, under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, was writing history 'objectively.' Hence he speaks as freely of himself as he would of any other person. It is also to be observed that he records his own faults and sins with the same fidelity and impartiality.”
So far as Numbers 12:3 is concerned, it should be observed that Moses' failure to speak in his own defense, even when put under great pressure by Aaron and Miriam to lose his temper, calls for special explanation. That explanation is found in his complete deliverance from pride and his thoroughgoing commitment of himself to the Lord God as his vindicator and protector. Any other leader in his position would surely have faced them with a withering reply, but Moses turned the matter completely over to God. We really need the information contained in v.3 in order to make sense of his amazing meekness in this situation.

–Dictionary of Bible Difficulties

Why Was God So Strict About Complaining?

Why was God so strict about “complaining” (Numbers 21:5-6)?

The people’s complaining was symptomatic of a much deeper problem: distrust of God. Their verbal barrage assaulted God’s character. Israel refused to take God at his word.

–The Quest Study Bible

Why Did God Punish People for Eating Quail in Numbers 11?

How could God punish the Israelites for eating the quail He had miraculously provided as their food (Numbers 11:31-34)?

If we read the whole account of Numbers 11 carefully, we can understand why God was so highly displeased with the Hebrew malcontents who were tired of His daily supply of manna and longed for meat and vegetables in their diet (verses 4-9). God gave them what they were asking for, thus bringing them to see how foolish they were to despise the good and sufficient food He had apportioned them in favor of that which they chose for themselves. In other words, in order to teach them a much-needed lesson, God saw fit to give the discontented rabble exactly what they asked for–rather than that which would be best for them. Such a huge number of dead birds would speedily begin to rot in that hot desert, despite the people’s best efforts to convert them into dried meat that could be preserved. There is little wonder that they began to suffer from food poisoning and disease as soon as they began chewing this unaccustomed food. In the end a great many of them died of plague and had to be buried right there in the desolate wilderness, at Qibrot Hatt'avah, “The Graves of Greed."

–Dictionary of Bible Difficulties

Why Were Such Specific Instructions Given how the Tribes Should Travel and Camp?

Why such specific instructions on how the tribes should travel and camp (Numbers 10:11-28)?

There is powerful imagery and meaning in the way Israel camped and traveled. The plan God gave was one that kept the tabernacle (a symbol of God’s presence) in the very middle of their lives. When they camped, the tabernacle was in the center of the camp. As a matter of fact, all the doors of the tents were to open toward the tabernacle. When they traveled, the tabernacle was central in their procession. This is a powerful reminder of the need to realize that God should be central in every aspect of our lives. This picture should encourage us to evaluate our lives and make sure God is at the center of all we do.

–Kevin Harney

What is the Curse of Adultery for Women in Numbers 5:21-22?

What is the curse mentioned Numbers 5:21ff.?

The passage reads that the curse would cause “her thigh to waste away and her abdomen to swell.” This is figurative language for infertility. It indicates a physical malady or reproductive problem that would prevent a woman from bearing children. During this time the Israelites viewed the inability to have children as a divine punishment for personal sin (see Deuteronomy 7:14), though not necessarily limited to adultery. God’s Word, however, does not make such blanket generalizations. Sarah, for example, bore disgrace for decades, though later she was called “holy” (1 Peter 3:5-6).

–The Quest Study Bible

Why Were Women Subjected to "Tests" for Suspected Adultery?

Why should an innocent wife go through all this because of a suspicious husband (Numbers 5:14-31)?

This would be for her own protection. This test actually functioned as a protective measure for a woman falsely accused of having an affair. Without it, the furious husband might harm her–even kill her. The law served as a deterrent against private acts of vengeance and retribution, and ensured justice in a potentially explosive situation.

–The Quest Study Bible

Why Would Glancing at Holy Things Result in Death?

Why would God kill people because they glanced at holy things (Numbers 4:20)?

Through strict requirements like these, God impressed upon his people the seriousness of his holiness. The underlying reason for this warning on God’s part may well have been mercy. It was a mercy of God that he had made himself known to anyone; it was the continuing mercy of God that he did not destroy more persons more quickly because of their wickedness; and it was a condescending mercy of God that he presented himself in their midst. The revelation of God’s word brings with it demands, some of which seem harsh and difficult. But God is near. Some seem to be so judgmental; yet God has not destroyed all. Some seem to be so threatening; yet God by his mercy allows some sense of his presence to remain known in the camp. His manifestation is based on his mercy; his strictures allow his mercy to continue to be realized.

–NIV Bible Commentary

What is the "Sea Cow" Mentioned in Numbers 4:6?

What is a “sea cow” (Numbers 4:6)?

Sea cows are dugongs, marine animals abounding on the coral banks of the Red Sea and in other tropical waters. A dugong grows to 11 feet long, with a round head, fish-like tail and flippers for forelimbs. Their appearance is similar to seals. Because the Red Sea borders ancient Egypt, it’s not surprising that Israel used their hides for various purposes.

–The Quest Study Bible

What Is the Tent of Meeting?

What is the “Tent of Meeting”?

The “tent of meeting” (Numbers 1:1) is frequently used to designate the pre-Solomonic sanctuary, while elsewhere the entire structure is often called the tabernacle. The phrase, “Tent of Meeting,” probably derives from the belief that this structure served as the meeting place between God and Moses (Leviticus 1:1) and also between God and the people of Israel (Exodus 29:42–43).

-Dictionary of Old Testament Theology

Did the Israelites Ever Make Camp in the Desert?

During the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness, did they ever stop to set up camp?

The Israelites camped throughout the journey. For example, they camped at Mt. Sinai for at least eighty days while Moses was on the mountain (Deuteronomy 9:9,18). Numbers 33 gives a comprehensive list of the encampments along the way.

–Don Porter

How Did the Jews Survive 40 Years in the Desert?

How did the Jews survive 40 years in the desert?

The objection that the natural resources of the Sinai desert could never have supported two million people or more for a period of forty years' wandering is absolutely valid. But it completely overlooks what the Pentateuch makes abundantly clear: Israel did not receive its food and drink from the ordinary natural resources of the Sinai terrain. This multitude was said to have been supplied in a miraculous way with manna from the sky and water from the cloven rock, all during the journey through the wilderness. The God who led the Israelites in the pillar of fire and the cloud was the one who supplied them with their nourishment by way of a supernatural intervention on their behalf.

–Dictionary of Bible Difficulties

How Many Jews Left Egypt?

How many Jews left Egypt?

Jacob's family came to Egypt with a total of 70 people (Exodus 1:5). After 430 years of brutal slave labor, that number rose to about 600,000 men (Exodus 12:37), which is remarkable considering the fact that many of the people would have died under cruel and dangerous work conditions. The book of Numbers begins with a national census (1:45-46). This census was conducted after the exodus from Egypt and it totals 603,550 men above the age of 20. Since these figures apply only to adult males, it has been traditionally assumed that the total number of participants including women and children, could have approximated 2.5 million people.

Some believe that the number could have been much higher than that. The estimated 2.5 million people is reached by estimating that the men would have been married and each family having at least 2 children. Among the Jewish people of ancient culture, large families were considered an honor. It is reasonable to believe that families would have totaled many more children than just two. If the number of children per family were just four, then the number of people that left Egypt could have been 3.5 million people.