The Israelites Complain
1One day the Israelites started complaining about their troubles. The Lord heard them and became so angry that he destroyed the outer edges of their camp with fire.
2When the people begged Moses to help, he prayed, and the fire went out. 3They named the place “Burning,” because in his anger the Lord had set their camp on fire.
The People Grumble about Being Hungry
4One day some foreigners among the Israelites became greedy for food, and even the Israelites themselves began moaning, “We don't have any meat! 5In Egypt we could eat all the fish we wanted, and there were cucumbers, melons, all kinds of onions, and garlic. 6But we're starving out here, and the only food we have is this manna.”
7 The manna was like small whitish seeds 8-9 and tasted like something baked with sweet olive oil. It appeared at night with the dew. In the morning the people would collect the manna, grind or crush it into flour, then boil it and make it into thin wafers.
10The Israelites stood around their tents complaining. Moses heard them and was upset that they had made the Lord angry. 11He prayed:
I am your servant, Lord, so why are you doing this to me? What have I done to deserve this? You've made me responsible for all these people, 12but they're not my children. You told me to nurse them along and to carry them to the land you promised their ancestors. 13They keep whining for meat, but where can I get meat for them? 14This job is too much for me. How can I take care of all these people by myself? 15If this is the way you're going to treat me, just kill me now and end my miserable life!
Seventy Leaders Are Chosen To Help Moses
16The Lord said to Moses:
Choose 70 of Israel's respected leaders and go with them to the sacred tent. 17While I am talking with you there, I will give them some of your authority, so they can share responsibility for my people. You will no longer have to care for them by yourself.
18As for the Israelites, I have heard them complaining about not having meat and about being better off in Egypt. So tell them to make themselves acceptable to me, because tomorrow they will have meat. 19-20In fact, they will have meat day after day for a whole month—not just a few days, or even 10 or 20. They turned against me and wanted to go back to Egypt. Now they will eat meat until they get sick of it.
21Moses replied, “At least 600,000 grown men are here with me. How can you say there will be enough meat to feed them and their families for a whole month? 22Even if we butchered all our sheep and cattle, or caught every fish in the sea, we wouldn't have enough to feed them.”
23The Lord answered, “I can do anything! Watch and you'll see my words come true.”
24Moses told the people what the Lord had said. Then he chose 70 respected leaders and went with them to the sacred tent. While the leaders stood in a circle around the tent, Moses went inside, 25and the Lord spoke with him. Then the Lord took some authority from Moses and gave it to the 70 leaders. And when the Lord's Spirit took control of them, they started shouting like prophets. But they did it only this one time.
26Eldad and Medad were two leaders who had not gone to the tent. But when the Spirit took control of them, they began shouting like prophets right there in camp. 27A boy ran to Moses and told him about Eldad and Medad.
28Joshua was there helping Moses, as he had done since he was young. And he said to Moses, “Sir, you must stop them!”
29But Moses replied, “Are you concerned what this might do to me? I wish the Lord would give his Spirit to all his people so everyone could be a prophet.” 30Then Moses and the 70 leaders went back to camp.
The Lord Sends Quails
31Some time later the Lord sent a strong wind that blew quails in from the sea until Israel's camp was completely surrounded with birds, piled up about a meter high for many kilometers in every direction. 32The people picked up quails for two days—each person filled at least ten large baskets. Then they spread them out to dry. 33But before the meat could be eaten, the Lord became angry and sent a deadly disease through the camp.
34After they had buried the people who had been so greedy for meat, they called the place “Graves for the Greedy.”
35Israel then broke camp and traveled to Hazeroth.