“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
There’s an interesting point about the second rebellion I’d like to mention.
When the people were complaining about not having any meat to eat, they weren’t really complaining about meat.
I know it’s a bit surprising but the kind of “meat” the people really wanted was fish.
The primary source of protein for the Israelites when they were in Egypt was fish.
And if you think about it, this makes good sense because the Israelites had plenty of herds and flocks.
So if they really wanted “meat” in terms of the kind of meat as we understand it, they would have had access to plenty of it.
No, the kind of meat they really wanted was fish.
Check out the following quote from George Freudenstein, a Hebrew scholar, a Tamuldist, and a nutritional scientist who was the chief chemist of the Jewish food giant Rokeach.
“IN ANCIENT Egypt fish was a staple diet for the workers, and that included the Hebrew slaves. Not satisfied with the manna, they complained to Moses, “We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt for nothing” (Numbers 11:5) and the Egyptian sources confirm that Rameses II, perhaps the pharaoh of the Exodus, gave his workers a free allowance of 10 kilos of salted fish each month. Under his descendent Rameses III, around 1150 BCE, it is recorded that the grave diggers requested an increase in this generous amount to compensate them for their heavy and unpleasant work.”
He goes on to add…
“In spite of the hot climate, Nile fish could be preserved by drying and salting, as evidenced by the discovery of a warehouse of dried fish at the Sun Temple of El-Amarna, in central Egypt.”
And there appears to be a connection to gefilte fish!
“Freudenstein quotes a German Egyptologist, who claims that the composition of the fish in the Nile Delta has hardly changed over the last five millennia and that there are 30 species still active from ancient times. These include carp, pike and mullet, and the species of Nile mullet is exactly the one that is in use for today’s gefilte fish, at least as produced by Rokeach.“
The Nile was a very long river that stretched the whole length of Egypt and was an abundant source of fish.
Fish could also easily be dried, preserved and transported.
By comparison, cattle for beef had to be raised in certain areas of Egypt where there was space for pasture and beef could spoil within a few hours.
Also, keep in mind out in the wilderness, the people weren’t able to build a garden that they could tend to for long periods of time.
Hence, verse 5 tells us the people were also craving vegetables and fresh fruit.
All that the people had eaten since leaving Egypt was manna.
And they were getting really sick of it.
They tried to add some variety to their manna diet by frying it, boiling it, roasting it, baking it, and I guess possibly spreading jellies or adding some spices to it.
But there’s only so much you can do when all you have to work with is manna.
So what’s the lesson to be learned here?
This is kind of a hard one but what I’m gleaning from this is that there are seasons when God will give us only what we need but not much more.
And though it may be boring or bland, we are called to not just endure it but be appreciative of it.
Think about it.
By eating the Manna from heaven, the people never became sick or came down with health problems.
The Manna provided from heaven perfectly satisfied ALL of the Israelites’ nutritional needs.
However, there is a clue as to why the Lord had the Israelites endure just eating Manna for a long time.
Let’s recall something Rabbi Yeshua said when facing down the devil in of all places the wilderness, just like the wilderness where the Israelites are now residing.
Yeshua answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on Manna alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
Now maybe, just maybe, and I’m being a bit spontaneous with my thoughts here but please hear me out but maybe the reason HASHEM had the Israelites subsist on a bland diet of Manna was so their focus would be on Him and not the things of Egypt.
He wanted their focus to be on the true source of life and all that is good.
Unfortunately, they failed the test this time around.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Our fathers ate manna in the desert
— as it says in the Tanakh, ‘
He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’
Yeshua said to them,
“Yes, indeed! I tell you it wasn’t Moshe
who gave you the bread from heaven.
But my Father is giving you
the genuine bread from heaven;
for God’s bread is the one
who comes down out of heaven
and gives life to the world.”
They said to him,
“Sir, give us this bread from now on.”
“I am the bread which is life!
Whoever comes to me will never go hungry,
and whoever trusts in me will never be thirsty.”