Israel’s reputation: Contrary
God will lead the invasion1Listen to me, Israel. You’re about to cross the Jordan. You’re going to take land away from nations bigger than you and stronger than you. They live inside huge cities protected behind towering walls. 2People in this land are strong and tall—the Anakites. You’ve heard about them. And you’ve heard the saying,
“Who could outfight
Don’t think you earned this land4Don’t get uppity and brag, “The LORD gave me this land because I’m a good and righteous person.” He didn’t. He is running off the locals because they’re wicked human beings. 5You’re not getting this land because you’re good enough to deserve it. The locals are losing it because they’re terrible people. You’re getting the land because the LORD promised it to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 6So, you’re not getting this land because you’re good and righteous. Actually, you’re good and stubborn.
7Think about it. Don’t let yourself forget how you tested, provoked, and agitated the LORD your God until he had up it to here. He got angry. You did that to him from the day you left Egypt until you arrived here. You’re contrarians, always resisting the LORD. 8You did that even at Mount Sinai. The LORD got so angry with you that he was going to end you right there. 9I had climbed the mountain to get the stone tablets inscribed with laws from the agreement God made with you. I stayed up there for 40 days and nights. I didn’t eat bread and I didn’t drink water. 10The LORD gave me two stone tablets that he inscribed. The laws he wrote on them were the same Ten Commandments you heard him speak. That’s when he spoke from inside a fire on the mountain when everyone assembled in the fields below.
Israel makes an idol11When the 40 days were over, the LORD gave me those two stone tablets inscribed with laws about the agreement he made with us. 12The LORD said, “Get up and go quickly. Those people you brought with you from Egypt are making a big mistake. They’re doing the opposite of what I told them to do. They created a mold and then used it to make an idol.” 13Then the LORD said, “I’ve had my eye on these people. They are stubborn to the bone. 14Step aside and I’ll take care of this. I’ll get rid of them right now. No one will even remember these people. Then I’ll make you the father of a nation—one that’s stronger than they would have been, and bigger, too.”
Moses breaks the stone tablets15When I heard that, I rushed down the mountain, which was blazing in fire. I carried the two stone tablets in my hands. 16I saw for myself that you did the opposite of what God told you to do. You melted metal, poured it into a mold, and made yourself an idol shaped like a calf.
17When I saw that, I threw the stone tablets and smashed them to pieces. You watched me do it. 18Then I dropped to the ground before the LORD. For the next 40 days and nights I didn’t eat bread or drink water. I was so upset by what you had done to provoke the LORD. 19I was afraid the LORD would get so angry with you that he would kill you all. But he didn’t because I asked him not to. 20The LORD was just as angry with Aaron—angry enough to kill him, too. I prayed for Aaron when I prayed for you. 21I took that calf you made, broke it to pieces, and ground it to powder. Then I threw that power into the stream coming down from the mountain.
Israelites, the serial sinners22What you did wasn’t an isolated event. You made God angry at the place called Burning. You did it at the place I called Pushy Complainers. And you did it again at Graveyard of the Greedy. 23Then there was Kadesh-barnea. That’s where God gave you this order: “This is the land I gave you. Take it. It’s yours.” 24You have shown the LORD your God nothing but defiance for as long as I’ve known you.
25I stayed on the ground before the LORD those 40 days and nights because I was afraid he would kill you all. 26I prayed to the LORD. I told him, “LORD, God, don’t kill your people. You freed them from Egypt and saved them with such an awesome display of power. 27And please don’t forget your devoted servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Don’t spend any more time fuming over how stubborn, wicked, and sinful these people behave. 28If you kill these people, Egyptians will say, “Well, would you look at that! The LORD couldn’t get the people into the land he promised them. So he blamed them, hated them, and killed them all in the desert.” 29These are still your people. They belong to you. These are the ones you reached out and saved in a powerful display.
Descendants of Anak—the Anakites or Anakim—are described as giants (Deuteronomy 2:10-11, see also Numbers 13:22).
They broke the first two laws of the Ten Commandments, Deuteronomy 5:7-9.
The irony is that Moses broke the tablets, but the Israelites broke the law. So, in a sense, what Moses did was to graphically illustrate what the people had done. Some scholars say that’s the message Moses intended to show, and that he didn’t smash the tablets because he lost his temper and went bonkers for a second.
The word is Tabrerah. It’s Hebrew for “burning.” God, angry at the Israelites, set fire to some of their tents. Numbers 11:1-3.
The two Hebrew names were Massah, meaning “test,” as in getting pushy with God, and Meribah, meaning “complain,” “argue,” or “fight.” Exodus 17:1-7.
The Hebrew name was Kibroth-hattaavah. Numbers 11:31-34. Bible versions offer different but similar English translations, including “graves” of: craving, gluttony, wanting. The idea is that people got greedy. They horded. Then they ate too much and died too soon. A modern take on the story is to speculate that the plague was more likely food poisoning from eating spoiled meat. To properly smoke quail, we need a sustained temperature that’s more than double the Sinai temperature. The temperature needs maintained for 3-4 hours, until the temperature of the meat inside is 165 F or 74 C. Otherwise the meat goes bad, the stomach goes sour, and everything inside starts hunting for the nearest exit.
The story of Israel’s disobedience is in Numbers 13-14.
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