“Next, the mixed crowd that was with them grew greedy for an easier life; while the people of Israel, for their part, also renewed their weeping and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt — it cost us nothing! — and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, the garlic! But now we’re withering away, we have nothing to look at but this man.”-Numbers 11:4-6
Today from verse four, I’m going to be talking about the second rebellion that occurred in Numbers Chapter 11.
While we’re not exactly told why the first rebellion occurred (but most likely due to harsh travel conditions), the reason behind the first rebellion is made quite clear!
“If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt — it cost us nothing! — and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, the garlic!”
It was all about food.
What we’re going to notice moving forward is a parallel pattern between the journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai in the Book of Exodus and the journey from Mount Sinai to Kadesh here in Numbers.
Remember that in Exodus, there was a similar complaint from the people crying out for meat and YHVH responded by sending them quail.
Now notice who the Scripture points out is doing the complaining here.
It says it was the “mixed multitude” who started the chain reaction of grumbling among the people.
The Hebrew word being used is ASAFSUF and this word literally means the “rabble” or the “riffraff“.
ASAFSUF has a similar ring to the word EREV RAV used in back in the Book of Exodus to refer to the mixed multitude.
Lest you think I’m being a little too imaginative for my own good, let me make it clear that the scholarly consensus is that ASAFSUF is without a doubt referring to those non-Israelites who followed after Israel when they left Egypt.
These were NOT converts, they were “resident aliens“.
In other words, they were those foreigners who wished to remain foreign but decided to stick around with Israel for the benefits to be had.
Since they weren’t interested in being grafted in, they were forced to camp on the outskirts of the Israelite encampment.
Now notice this interesting detail about the first rebellion that broke out.
“But the people began complaining about their hardships to Adonai. When Adonai heard it, his anger flared up, so that fire from Adonai broke out against them and consumed the outskirts of the camp“-Numbers 11:1-2
Hmmm, this is interesting?
Who was camping at the outskirts of the camp again?
That’s right, it was the ASAFSUF or the “mixed multitude“!
We’re talking about the pagans who had attached themselves to Israel but didn’t share their allegiance to the Lord or Israel’s mission!
We’re talking about people who wanted all the benefits of being close to God’s Chosen people, but didn’t want to share in their burdens and difficulties.
Can you think of anybody like this or maybe it’s yourself?
Historically speaking, it’s no wonder that religious Jews have always been wary of coming into too intimate of contact with gentiles.
They don’t want to be infected by their UNCLEANLINESS whether physical or mental (their worldly mindsets and ways of thinking).
Now don’t get me wrong.
The Israelites were just as guilty for it says “while the people of Israel, for their part, also renewed their weeping“.
But the Scripture is clear that the riffraff or the “mixed multitude” were the ones who started the chain reaction of moaning and groaning that eventually infected everybody else and the lesson here for us believers is very important.
We have to be careful of who we keep company with lest we be infected by their ungodly ways of living and thinking.
In fact, I would say this is one of the main reasons a believer loses faith, because of the bad influence from unbelieving family and friends.
So carefully guard your heart, mind, and soul from ungodly influences!
One final point.
I need to let you know there is some slight scholarly disagreement as to exactly where this second rebellion took place.
Some will say it took place at Taberah (meaning “burning” and the location of the first rebellion) and others will say they had already moved to a different location.
Personally, while that’s totally possible, I don’t buy that.
The Scriptures here don’t mention that the Israelites broke camp and moved somewhere else before this second rebellion occurred.
I think going with the plain reading of the text is always best.