31 A wind come up and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall in the camp, a day's journey on each side and two cubits high.
32 The people gathered the quails, each person at least ten homers.
God smites the people for complaining about the quails
33 And while the quail flesh was still between their teeth, the wrath of God was kindled against the people, and he smote the people with a very great plague.
A few more words about this episode
When the people complained (v.1)
The Bible doesn't say what the people were complaining about. Spending years wandering around in the desert following a cloud around? Not having enough food or water? Having friends and family killed for no good reason?
It doesn't say. But whatever it was, God heard it. (He had his hearing aid on.)
There's nothing at all to eat, besides this manna. (v.6)
This is the first mention of "manna" in Numbers. See Ex 16 (Episode 31)for the missing story.
Nursing father (v.12)
This unusual phrase is used twice in the Bible. Here and Isaiah 49:23
A day's journey on each side and two cubits high (v.31)
God coated the ground with dead quails. A meter deep within a circle 30 kilometers in radius.
How many quails would that be?
Well, let's see. The volume of a meter high cylinder with a diameter of 60 kilometers is about 3 billion cubic meters. Since there are 1000 liters in a cubic meter, that makes 3 trillion liters. If the average volume per quail was 1 liter (that would be a big quail), then there would have been 3 trillion dead quail covering the ground, a million or so for each of the several million Israelites.
Each person at least ten homers (v.32)
A homer was about 220 liters, so each person collected at least 2200 liters or 2.2 cubic meters of quails. (Which is about the volume of full-sized pickup truck.)
Since there were 600,000 men, the total daily load of quails would be about 1.3 million cubic meters. (About 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools)
If an average quail had a volume of 1 liter, then 1.3 billion quails would have been collected - which is only 0.04% of the quails that covered the ground - using the data from verse 31.
Eldad and Medad
Somehow Carole and I skipped over this very interesting section of Numbers 11.
I'm not sure how that happened, although it is something that we decided to include after first writing the text for this episode.
Anyway, be sure not to skip over it as your read this episode. It's all about prophesying and who is allowed to do it.
And as Moses said, "Heck, I wish everyone was a prophet!"