פָּרָשַׁת בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ | Parashat b’Ha’alotekha (Numbers 8:1-12:16), color-coded according to its narrative layers

According to the poetry of the Midrash Tanḥuma, Bereshit 1:1, the words of the Torah were inscribed “black fire on white fire.” For many years, I’ve wanted to look deeply into the black fire and visualize the full spectrum of the Torah’s sources, hidden within the black fire but revealed through a critical analysis of its layers of redaction. Below, I’ve set the text of the first Torah portion in the annual Torah reading cycle, using color-coding to distinguish the stratigraphic layers forming the composition of the Masoretic text according to the Supplementary Hypothesis presented by Tsemaḥ Yoreh in his Kernel to Canon series of books (2013-2017) and his website, the Sources of Biblical Narrative. As Dr. Yoreh explains,

The Supplementary Hypothesis asserts that the Pentateuch was composed by several different writers. This reflects an overwhelming academic consensus on Biblical authorship, even among scholars who do not subscribe to the Supplementary Hypothesis in particular.[….] According to the Supplementary Hypothesis, Biblical narrative is layered. No editor took a blowtorch to the parts of the Bible he disagreed with and destroyed them; if he had, we would not find these repetitions and contradictions. Instead, Biblical narrative began with a coherent, foundational bedrock, which over time accreted more and more storylines. Unlike geological processes, though, this process of addition was deliberate. What happened if one author disagreed with his predecessor’s storyline or worldview? He did not simply take an axe to the narrative; instead, he attempted to bury his predecessor’s point of view by repeating his own over and over again, thus skewing our understanding of the story in new ways. Every generation of readers sees the world differently, and thus every generation of writers seeks to adapt their predecessors’ cultural heritage to their own situation. We are not meant simply to dismiss earlier stories; rather, the intention of later writers is to transform our understanding of those stories via their additions.

Legend

⬛ The kernel of biblical text upon which all other narratives were laid is thought to have been composed in the mid- to late eighth century BCE toward the end of the heyday of the northern Kingdom of Ephraim (one of the two kingdoms that occupied Biblical Israel). This layer, commonly referred to as ‘E’, is indicated with INDIGO text. The first parashah containing text of this layer was parashat Vayera in Sefer Bereshit.

⬛ The next oldest layer is thought to have been composed in the late 8th or early 7th century BCE in the southern Kingdom of Judah. This layer, commonly known as ‘J’, is indicated with a BLUE text.

⬛ This strata, thought to have been composed during the exilic to early post-exilic period (571–486 BCE) is, as Dr. Yoreh explains, “responsible for supplementing the ‘J’ narrative with dates, names, and numbers, thus ‘ordering’ and authenticating ‘J’s account.” This layer, commonly referred to as ‘P’ (for ‘Priestly’) appears here in GREEN text.

⬛ The next strata popularized Kohanite law for the remnant of Judah after the Temple was destroyed, and functioned as an intermediary between Kohanite lists and laws and the surrounding narrative. This layer, which Dr. Yoreh calls ‘H’ (for the ‘Holiness Code’) appears here in LIME-GREEN text.

⬛ The most recent layer of text, is a post-exilic (pre-3rd century BCE) text that Dr. Yoreh refers to as the “Bridger” which supplements earlier strata with genealogies and popular myths, providing narrative bridges between distant story cycles. This ‘B’ layer is presented here in FUCHSIA.

The kernel of biblical text ‘E’ is absent from this parashah.

Parashat b’Ha’alotekha (Numbers 8:1-12:16) in the annual Torah reading cycle is the third parashah in Sefer Bamidbar. It is preceded by parashat Naso ((Numbers 4:21-7:89). Parashat Shlaḥ (Numbers 13:1-15:41) follows it.

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

ח א וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ ב דַּבֵּר֙ אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֔ן וְאָמַרְתָּ֖ אֵלָ֑יו בְּהַעֲלֹֽתְךָ֙ אֶת־הַנֵּרֹ֔ת אֶל־מוּל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה יָאִ֖ירוּ שִׁבְעַ֥ת הַנֵּרֽוֹת׃ ג וַיַּ֤עַשׂ כֵּן֙ אַהֲרֹ֔ן אֶל־מוּל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה הֶעֱלָ֖ה נֵרֹתֶ֑יהָ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶת־מֹשֶֽׁה׃ ד וְזֶ֨ה מַעֲשֵׂ֤ה הַמְּנֹרָה֙ מִקְשָׁ֣ה זָהָ֔ב עַד־יְרֵכָ֥הּ עַד־פִּרְחָ֖הּ מִקְשָׁ֣ה הִ֑וא כַּמַּרְאֶ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֶרְאָ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֔ה כֵּ֥ן עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת־הַמְּנֹרָֽה׃
8 1 YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying: 2 Speak to Aharon and say to him: “When you draw up the nerot/lampwicks, toward the front of the Menorah let the seven nerot give light.” 3 Aharon did thus; toward the front of the Menorah he drew up the nerot, as YHVH had commanded Mosheh. 4 Now this (was) the constructed-pattern of the Menorah: hammered-work of gold, (even) up to its stem, up to its petals, it was hammered-work. According to the vision that YHVH had Mosheh see, thus the Menorah was made.

ה וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ ו קַ֚ח אֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֔ם מִתּ֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְטִהַרְתָּ֖ אֹתָֽם׃ ז וְכֹֽה־תַעֲשֶׂ֤ה לָהֶם֙ לְטַֽהֲרָ֔ם הַזֵּ֥ה עֲלֵיהֶ֖ם מֵ֣י חַטָּ֑את וְהֶעֱבִ֤ירוּ תַ֙עַר֙ עַל־כׇּל־בְּשָׂרָ֔ם וְכִבְּס֥וּ בִגְדֵיהֶ֖ם וְהִטֶּהָֽרוּ׃ ח וְלָֽקְחוּ֙ פַּ֣ר בֶּן־בָּקָ֔ר וּמִ֨נְחָת֔וֹ סֹ֖לֶת בְּלוּלָ֣ה בַשָּׁ֑מֶן וּפַר־שֵׁנִ֥י בֶן־בָּקָ֖ר תִּקַּ֥ח לְחַטָּֽאת׃ ט וְהִקְרַבְתָּ֙ אֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֔ם לִפְנֵ֖י אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְהִ֨קְהַלְתָּ֔ אֶֽת־כׇּל־עֲדַ֖ת בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ י וְהִקְרַבְתָּ֥ אֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֖ם לִפְנֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֑ה וְסָמְכ֧וּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל אֶת־יְדֵיהֶ֖ם עַל־הַלְוִיִּֽם׃ יא וְהֵנִיף֩ אַהֲרֹ֨ן אֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֤ם תְּנוּפָה֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֔ה מֵאֵ֖ת בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְהָי֕וּ לַעֲבֹ֖ד אֶת־עֲבֹדַ֥ת יְהֹוָה׃ יב וְהַלְוִיִּם֙ יִסְמְכ֣וּ אֶת־יְדֵיהֶ֔ם עַ֖ל רֹ֣אשׁ הַפָּרִ֑ים וַ֠עֲשֵׂ֠ה אֶת־הָאֶחָ֨ד חַטָּ֜את וְאֶת־הָאֶחָ֤ד עֹלָה֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֔ה לְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־הַלְוִיִּֽם׃ יג וְהַֽעֲמַדְתָּ֙ אֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֔ם לִפְנֵ֥י אַהֲרֹ֖ן וְלִפְנֵ֣י בָנָ֑יו וְהֵנַפְתָּ֥ אֹתָ֛ם תְּנוּפָ֖ה לַֽיהֹוָֽה׃ יד וְהִבְדַּלְתָּ֙ אֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֔ם מִתּ֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְהָ֥יוּ לִ֖י הַלְוִיִּֽם׃
5 Now YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying: 6 “Take the Levi’im from the midst of the Children of Yisra’el, and purify them. 7 Thus you are to do to them, in order to purify them: sprinkle on them Water of Ḥattat/decontamination; they are to pass a razor across their whole body, and are to scrub their garments — then they will have purified themselves. 8 They are to take a bull, a young of the herd, and its grain-gift, flour mixed with oil, and a second bull, a young of the herd, you are to take for the ḥattat-offering. 9 You are to have the Levi’im come-near before the Ohel Mo’ed; then you are to assemble the entire community of the Children of Yisra’el. 10 You are to have the Levi’im come-near, before the presence of YHVH, and the Children of Yisra’el are to lean their hands upon the Levi’im. 11 Aharon is to elevate the Levi’im as an elevation-offering, before the presence of YHVH, on behalf of the Children of Yisra’el, that they may serve the serving-tasks of YHVH. 12 Then the Levi’im are to lean their hands on the head of the bulls; they are to assign the one as a ḥattat-offering and the other as an offering-up to YHVH, to effect-ransom for the Levi’im. 13 Thus you are to have the Levi’im stand before Aharon and before his sons and are to elevate them as an elevation-offering to YHVH. 14 Now you are to separate the Levi’im from the midst of the Children of Yisra’el, mine are the Levi’im to be!”

שני טו וְאַֽחֲרֵי־כֵן֙ יָבֹ֣אוּ הַלְוִיִּ֔ם לַעֲבֹ֖ד אֶת־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְטִֽהַרְתָּ֣ אֹתָ֔ם וְהֵנַפְתָּ֥ אֹתָ֖ם תְּנוּפָֽה׃ טז כִּי֩ נְתֻנִ֨ים נְתֻנִ֥ים הֵ֙מָּה֙ לִ֔י מִתּ֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל תַּ֩חַת֩ פִּטְרַ֨ת כׇּל־רֶ֜חֶם בְּכ֥וֹר כֹּל֙ מִבְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לָקַ֥חְתִּי אֹתָ֖ם לִֽי׃ יז כִּ֣י לִ֤י כׇל־בְּכוֹר֙ בִּבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בָּאָדָ֖ם וּבַבְּהֵמָ֑ה בְּי֗וֹם הַכֹּתִ֤י כׇל־בְּכוֹר֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם הִקְדַּ֥שְׁתִּי אֹתָ֖ם לִֽי׃ יח וָאֶקַּ֖ח אֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֑ם תַּ֥חַת כׇּל־בְּכ֖וֹר בִּבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ יט וָאֶתְּנָ֨ה אֶת־הַלְוִיִּ֜ם נְתֻנִ֣ים ׀ לְאַהֲרֹ֣ן וּלְבָנָ֗יו מִתּוֹךְ֮ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ לַעֲבֹ֞ד אֶת־עֲבֹדַ֤ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד וּלְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְלֹ֨א יִהְיֶ֜ה בִּבְנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ נֶ֔גֶף בְּגֶ֥שֶׁת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶל־הַקֹּֽדֶשׁ׃
15 “After that the Levi’im may enter into the service of the Ohel Mo’ed, when you have purified them and elevated them as an elevation-offering. 16 For given-over, given-over are they to me from the midst of the Children of Yisra’el, in place of the breacher of every womb, the firstborn of every one of the Children of Yisra’el; I have taken them for myself. 17 For mine is every firstborn among the Children of Yisra’el, of human and of domesticated-animal; at the time that I struck down every firstborn in the land of Mitsrayim, I declared-them-holy for myself. 18 Now I take the Levi’im in place of every firstborn from the Children of Yisra’el, 19 and I give-over the Levi’im, (to be) given-over to Aharon and to his sons from the midst of the Children of Yisra’el, to serve the serving-tasks of the Children of Yisra’el in the Ohel Mo’ed, and to effect-ransom for the Children of Yisra’el, that there not be among the Children of Yisra’el (any) plague when the Children of Yisra’el encroach on the holy-things.”

כ וַיַּ֨עַשׂ מֹשֶׁ֧ה וְאַהֲרֹ֛ן וְכׇל־עֲדַ֥ת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לַלְוִיִּ֑ם כְּ֠כֹ֠ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֨ה יְהֹוָ֤ה אֶת־מֹשֶׁה֙ לַלְוִיִּ֔ם כֵּן־עָשׂ֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ כא וַיִּֽתְחַטְּא֣וּ הַלְוִיִּ֗ם וַֽיְכַבְּסוּ֙ בִּגְדֵיהֶ֔ם וַיָּ֨נֶף אַהֲרֹ֥ן אֹתָ֛ם תְּנוּפָ֖ה לִפְנֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֑ה וַיְכַפֵּ֧ר עֲלֵיהֶ֛ם אַהֲרֹ֖ן לְטַהֲרָֽם׃ כב וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵ֞ן בָּ֣אוּ הַלְוִיִּ֗ם לַעֲבֹ֤ד אֶת־עֲבֹֽדָתָם֙ בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד לִפְנֵ֥י אַהֲרֹ֖ן וְלִפְנֵ֣י בָנָ֑יו כַּאֲשֶׁר֩ צִוָּ֨ה יְהֹוָ֤ה אֶת־מֹשֶׁה֙ עַל־הַלְוִיִּ֔ם כֵּ֖ן עָשׂ֥וּ לָהֶֽם׃
20 Mosheh, Aharon, and the entire community of Yisra’el did regarding the Levi’im according to all that YHVH had commanded Mosheh regarding the Levi’im, thus they did regarding them, the Children of Yisra’el. 21 The Levi’im decontaminated-themselves and scrubbed their garments; Aharon elevated them as an elevation-offering before the presence of YHVH, and Aharon effected-purgation for them, to purify them. 22 After that the Levi’im entered to serve their serving-tasks in the Ohel Mo’ed, in the presence of Aharon and in the presence of his sons: as YHVH had commanded Mosheh regarding the Levi’im, thus they did regarding them.

כג וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ כד זֹ֖את אֲשֶׁ֣ר לַלְוִיִּ֑ם מִבֶּן֩ חָמֵ֨שׁ וְעֶשְׂרִ֤ים שָׁנָה֙ וָמַ֔עְלָה יָבוֹא֙ לִצְבֹ֣א צָבָ֔א בַּעֲבֹדַ֖ת אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד׃ כה וּמִבֶּן֙ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים שָׁנָ֔ה יָשׁ֖וּב מִצְּבָ֣א הָעֲבֹדָ֑ה וְלֹ֥א יַעֲבֹ֖ד עֽוֹד׃ כו וְשֵׁרֵ֨ת אֶת־אֶחָ֜יו בְּאֹ֤הֶל מוֹעֵד֙ לִשְׁמֹ֣ר מִשְׁמֶ֔רֶת וַעֲבֹדָ֖ה לֹ֣א יַעֲבֹ֑ד כָּ֛כָה תַּעֲשֶׂ֥ה לַלְוִיִּ֖ם בְּמִשְׁמְרֹתָֽם׃
23 YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying: 24 “This is what (is to be done) regarding the Levi’im: from the age of five and twenty years and upward, they are to enter the working-force, to join-the-force in the serving-tasks of the Ohel Mo’ed; 25 and from the age of fifty years, they are to retire from being-on-the-force for the serving-tasks, and shall not serve anymore. 26 They may attend upon their brothers in the Ohel Mo’ed, to keep the maintenance-duty, but serving-tasks they are not to serve. Thus are you to do regarding the Levi’im in reference to their duties.”

שלישי ט א וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר יְהֹוָ֣ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֣ה בְמִדְבַּר־סִ֠ינַ֠י בַּשָּׁנָ֨ה הַשֵּׁנִ֜ית לְצֵאתָ֨ם מֵאֶ֧רֶץ מִצְרַ֛יִם בַּחֹ֥דֶשׁ הָרִאשׁ֖וֹן לֵאמֹֽר׃ ב וְיַעֲשׂ֧וּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל אֶת־הַפָּ֖סַח בְּמוֹעֲדֽוֹ׃ ג בְּאַרְבָּעָ֣ה עָשָֽׂר־י֠וֹם בַּחֹ֨דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֜ה בֵּ֧ין הָֽעַרְבַּ֛יִם תַּעֲשׂ֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ בְּמֹעֲד֑וֹ כְּכׇל־חֻקֹּתָ֥יו וּכְכׇל־מִשְׁפָּטָ֖יו תַּעֲשׂ֥וּ אֹתֽוֹ׃ ד וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לַעֲשֹׂ֥ת הַפָּֽסַח׃ ה וַיַּעֲשׂ֣וּ אֶת־הַפֶּ֡סַח בָּרִאשׁ֡וֹן בְּאַרְבָּעָה֩ עָשָׂ֨ר י֥וֹם לַחֹ֛דֶשׁ בֵּ֥ין הָעַרְבַּ֖יִם בְּמִדְבַּ֣ר סִינָ֑י כְּ֠כֹ֠ל אֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֔ה כֵּ֥ן עָשׂ֖וּ בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
9 1 YHVH spoke to Mosheh in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the second year of their going-out of the land of Mitsrayim, at the first New-moon, saying: 2 “The Children of Yisra’el are to sacrifice the Pesaḥ-offering at its appointed-time: 3 on the fourteenth day after this New-moon, between the setting-times, you are to sacrifice it at its appointed-time; according to all its laws, according to all its regulations, you are to sacrifice it.” 4 So Mosheh spoke (instructions) to the Children of Yisra’el, to sacrifice the Pesaḥ-offering. 5 And they sacrificed the Pesaḥ-offering in the first (New-moon), on the fourteenth day after the New-moon, between the setting-times, in the Wilderness of Sinai. According to all that YHVH had commanded Mosheh, thus did the Children of Yisra’el.

ו וַיְהִ֣י אֲנָשִׁ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֨ר הָי֤וּ טְמֵאִים֙ לְנֶ֣פֶשׁ אָדָ֔ם וְלֹא־יָכְל֥וּ לַעֲשֹׂת־הַפֶּ֖סַח בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֑וּא וַֽיִּקְרְב֞וּ לִפְנֵ֥י מֹשֶׁ֛ה וְלִפְנֵ֥י אַהֲרֹ֖ן בַּיּ֥וֹם הַהֽוּא׃ ז וַ֠יֹּאמְר֠וּ הָאֲנָשִׁ֤ים הָהֵ֙מָּה֙ אֵלָ֔יו אֲנַ֥חְנוּ טְמֵאִ֖ים לְנֶ֣פֶשׁ אָדָ֑ם לָ֣מָּה נִגָּרַ֗ע לְבִלְתִּ֨י הַקְרִ֜יב אֶת־קׇרְבַּ֤ן יְהֹוָה֙ בְּמֹ֣עֲד֔וֹ בְּת֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ ח וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֖ם מֹשֶׁ֑ה עִמְד֣וּ וְאֶשְׁמְעָ֔ה מַה־יְצַוֶּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה לָכֶֽם׃
6 But there were some men who were tamei by reason of a (dead) human person, and so were not able to sacrifice the Pesaḥ-offering on that day; coming-near before Mosheh and before Aharon on that day, 7 those men said to him: “We are tamei by reason of a (dead) human person; (but) why should we have (a privilege) taken-away, by not (being allowed) to bring-near the near-offering of YHVH in its appointed-time in the midst of the Children of Yisra’el?” 8 Mosheh said to them: “Stand by, and let me hear what YHVH shall command regarding you.”

ט וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ י דַּבֵּ֛ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר אִ֣ישׁ אִ֣ישׁ כִּי־יִהְיֶֽה־טָמֵ֣א ׀ לָנֶ֡פֶשׁ אוֹ֩ בְדֶ֨רֶךְ רְחֹקָ֜הׄ לָכֶ֗ם א֚וֹ לְדֹרֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם וְעָ֥שָׂה פֶ֖סַח לַיהֹוָֽה׃ יא בַּחֹ֨דֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִ֜י בְּאַרְבָּעָ֨ה עָשָׂ֥ר י֛וֹם בֵּ֥ין הָעַרְבַּ֖יִם יַעֲשׂ֣וּ אֹת֑וֹ עַל־מַצּ֥וֹת וּמְרֹרִ֖ים יֹאכְלֻֽהוּ׃ יב לֹֽא־יַשְׁאִ֤ירוּ מִמֶּ֙נּוּ֙ עַד־בֹּ֔קֶר וְעֶ֖צֶם לֹ֣א יִשְׁבְּרוּ־ב֑וֹ כְּכׇל־חֻקַּ֥ת הַפֶּ֖סַח יַעֲשׂ֥וּ אֹתֽוֹ׃ יג וְהָאִישׁ֩ אֲשֶׁר־ה֨וּא טָה֜וֹר וּבְדֶ֣רֶךְ לֹא־הָיָ֗ה וְחָדַל֙ לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת הַפֶּ֔סַח וְנִכְרְתָ֛ה הַנֶּ֥פֶשׁ הַהִ֖וא מֵֽעַמֶּ֑יהָ כִּ֣י ׀ קׇרְבַּ֣ן יְהֹוָ֗ה לֹ֤א הִקְרִיב֙ בְּמֹ֣עֲד֔וֹ חֶטְא֥וֹ יִשָּׂ֖א הָאִ֥ישׁ הַהֽוּא׃ יד וְכִֽי־יָג֨וּר אִתְּכֶ֜ם גֵּ֗ר וְעָ֤שָֽׂה פֶ֙סַח֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֔ה כְּחֻקַּ֥ת הַפֶּ֛סַח וּכְמִשְׁפָּט֖וֹ כֵּ֣ן יַעֲשֶׂ֑ה חֻקָּ֤ה אַחַת֙ יִהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֔ם וְלַגֵּ֖ר וּלְאֶזְרַ֥ח הָאָֽרֶץ׃
9 YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying: 10 “Speak to the Children of Yisra’el, saying: ‘A man, (any) man when he is tamei by reason of a (dead) person or is on a long journey, among you or among your generations, and sacrifices a Pesaḥ-offering to YHVH: 11 in the second New-moon, on the fourteenth day, between the setting-times, he is to sacrifice it; together with matza (and) bitter-herbs they are to eat it. 12 They are not to leave (any) of it until morning, a bone is not to be broken from it, according to all the law of the Pesaḥ-offering, they are to sacrifice it. 13 But a man who is (ritually) pure, or who has not been on a journey, and holds back from sacrificing the Pesaḥ-offering: cut off will that person be from his kinspeople, for the near-offering of Pesaḥ for YHVH he has not brought-near at its appointed-time; his sin he is to bear, that man. 14 Now when a sojourner sojourns with you and sacrifices a Pesaḥ-offering to YHVH, according to the law of the Pesaḥ-offering and according to its regulation, thus he is to sacrifice (it). One law (alone) is there to be for you, for the sojourner and for the native of the land.'”

רביעי טו וּבְיוֹם֙ הָקִ֣ים אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֔ן כִּסָּ֤ה הֶֽעָנָן֙ אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֔ן לְאֹ֖הֶל הָעֵדֻ֑ת וּבָעֶ֜רֶב יִהְיֶ֧ה עַֽל־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֛ן כְּמַרְאֵה־אֵ֖שׁ עַד־בֹּֽקֶר׃ טז כֵּ֚ן יִהְיֶ֣ה תָמִ֔יד הֶעָנָ֖ן יְכַסֶּ֑נּוּ וּמַרְאֵה־אֵ֖שׁ לָֽיְלָה׃ יז וּלְפִ֞י הֵעָל֤וֹת הֶֽעָנָן֙ מֵעַ֣ל הָאֹ֔הֶל וְאַ֣חֲרֵי כֵ֔ן יִסְע֖וּ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וּבִמְק֗וֹם אֲשֶׁ֤ר יִשְׁכׇּן־שָׁם֙ הֶֽעָנָ֔ן שָׁ֥ם יַחֲנ֖וּ בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ יח עַל־פִּ֣י יְהֹוָ֗ה יִסְעוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְעַל־פִּ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה יַחֲנ֑וּ כׇּל־יְמֵ֗י אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשְׁכֹּ֧ן הֶעָנָ֛ן עַל־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֖ן יַחֲנֽוּ׃ יט וּבְהַאֲרִ֧יךְ הֶֽעָנָ֛ן עַל־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֖ן יָמִ֣ים רַבִּ֑ים וְשָׁמְר֧וּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל אֶת־מִשְׁמֶ֥רֶת יְהֹוָ֖ה וְלֹ֥א יִסָּֽעוּ׃ כ וְיֵ֞שׁ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִהְיֶ֧ה הֶֽעָנָ֛ן יָמִ֥ים מִסְפָּ֖ר עַל־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֑ן עַל־פִּ֤י יְהֹוָה֙ יַחֲנ֔וּ וְעַל־פִּ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה יִסָּֽעוּ׃ כא וְיֵ֞שׁ אֲשֶׁר־יִהְיֶ֤ה הֶֽעָנָן֙ מֵעֶ֣רֶב עַד־בֹּ֔קֶר וְנַעֲלָ֧ה הֶֽעָנָ֛ן בַּבֹּ֖קֶר וְנָסָ֑עוּ א֚וֹ יוֹמָ֣ם וָלַ֔יְלָה וְנַעֲלָ֥ה הֶעָנָ֖ן וְנָסָֽעוּ׃ כב אֽוֹ־יֹמַ֜יִם אוֹ־חֹ֣דֶשׁ אוֹ־יָמִ֗ים בְּהַאֲרִ֨יךְ הֶעָנָ֤ן עַל־הַמִּשְׁכָּן֙ לִשְׁכֹּ֣ן עָלָ֔יו יַחֲנ֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל וְלֹ֣א יִסָּ֑עוּ וּבְהֵעָלֹת֖וֹ יִסָּֽעוּ׃ כג עַל־פִּ֤י יְהֹוָה֙ יַחֲנ֔וּ וְעַל־פִּ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה יִסָּ֑עוּ אֶת־מִשְׁמֶ֤רֶת יְהֹוָה֙ שָׁמָ֔רוּ עַל־פִּ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה בְּיַד־מֹשֶֽׁה׃
15 Now at the time that the Mishkan was set up, the cloud covered the Mishkan over the Ohel haÉdut, and after sunset it remained over the Mishkan, as the appearance of fire, until daybreak. 16 Thus it was regularly: the cloud would cover it, an appearance of fire at night. 17 According as the cloud was lifted up from the tent, after that the Children of Yisra’el would march on, and in the place that the cloud would take-up-Mishkan, there the Children of Yisra’el would encamp. 18 By order of YHVH, the Children of Yisra’el would march, and by order of YHVH, they would encamp; all the days that the cloud dwelt above the Mishkan, they would remain-in-camp. 19 Now when the cloud lingered over the Mishkan for many days, the Children of Yisra’el would keep the charge of YHVH, and would not march on. 20 At such (times) as the cloud remained for a number of days over the Mishkan, by order of YHVH they would remain-in-camp, and by order of YHVH they would march on. 21 At such (times) as the cloud remained from sunset until daybreak, when the cloud lifted at daybreak, they would march on. Whether by day or by night, when the cloud lifted, they would march on. 22 Whether two days or a New-moon or a year-of-days, when the cloud lingered over the Mishkan, Mishkan over it, the Children of Yisra’el would remain-in-camp, and would not march on; at its lifting-up, they would march on. 23 By order of YHVH they would encamp, and by order of YHVH they would march; the charge of YHVH, they would keep, by order of YHVH, through the hand of Mosheh.

י א וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ ב עֲשֵׂ֣ה לְךָ֗ שְׁתֵּי֙ חֲצֽוֹצְרֹ֣ת כֶּ֔סֶף מִקְשָׁ֖ה תַּעֲשֶׂ֣ה אֹתָ֑ם וְהָי֤וּ לְךָ֙ לְמִקְרָ֣א הָֽעֵדָ֔ה וּלְמַסַּ֖ע אֶת־הַֽמַּחֲנֽוֹת׃ ג וְתָקְע֖וּ בָּהֵ֑ן וְנֽוֹעֲד֤וּ אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ כׇּל־הָ֣עֵדָ֔ה אֶל־פֶּ֖תַח אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד׃ ד וְאִם־בְּאַחַ֖ת יִתְקָ֑עוּ וְנוֹעֲד֤וּ אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ הַנְּשִׂיאִ֔ים רָאשֵׁ֖י אַלְפֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ ה וּתְקַעְתֶּ֖ם תְּרוּעָ֑ה וְנָֽסְעוּ֙ הַֽמַּחֲנ֔וֹת הַחֹנִ֖ים קֵֽדְמָה׃ ו וּתְקַעְתֶּ֤ם תְּרוּעָה֙ שֵׁנִ֔ית וְנָֽסְעוּ֙ הַֽמַּחֲנ֔וֹת הַחֹנִ֖ים תֵּימָ֑נָה תְּרוּעָ֥ה יִתְקְע֖וּ לְמַסְעֵיהֶֽם׃ ז וּבְהַקְהִ֖יל אֶת־הַקָּהָ֑ל תִּתְקְע֖וּ וְלֹ֥א תָרִֽיעוּ׃ ח וּבְנֵ֤י אַהֲרֹן֙ הַכֹּ֣הֲנִ֔ים יִתְקְע֖וּ בַּחֲצֹֽצְרֹ֑ת וְהָי֥וּ לָכֶ֛ם לְחֻקַּ֥ת עוֹלָ֖ם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶֽם׃ ט וְכִֽי־תָבֹ֨אוּ מִלְחָמָ֜ה בְּאַרְצְכֶ֗ם עַל־הַצַּר֙ הַצֹּרֵ֣ר אֶתְכֶ֔ם וַהֲרֵעֹתֶ֖ם בַּחֲצֹצְרֹ֑ת וְנִזְכַּרְתֶּ֗ם לִפְנֵי֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם וְנוֹשַׁעְתֶּ֖ם מֵאֹיְבֵיכֶֽם׃ י וּבְי֨וֹם שִׂמְחַתְכֶ֥ם וּֽבְמוֹעֲדֵיכֶם֮ וּבְרָאשֵׁ֣י חׇדְשֵׁיכֶם֒‏[1]בספרי ספרד ואשכנז חׇדְשֵׁכֶם֒ וּתְקַעְתֶּ֣ם בַּחֲצֹֽצְרֹ֗ת עַ֚ל עֹלֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם וְעַ֖ל זִבְחֵ֣י שַׁלְמֵיכֶ֑ם וְהָי֨וּ לָכֶ֤ם לְזִכָּרוֹן֙ לִפְנֵ֣י אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃
10 1 YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying: 2 “Make yourself two trumpets of silver, of hammered-work you are to make them; they are to be for you for calling-together the community and for (signaling) the marching of the camps. 3 When you sound-a-blast on them, there shall come-together before you the entire community, at the entrance of the Ohel Mo’ed. 4 Now if (but) one blast-is-blown, there shall come-together before you the leaders, the heads of the divisions of Yisra’el; 5 but if you give a trilling blast, then shall march forward the camps encamped on the east. 6 If you should give a second trilling blast, then shall march forward the camps encamped on the south. Trilling blasts are to be given for their marching forward, 7 but to assemble the assembly, you are to (blow) short-blasts, you are not to (blow) trilling-sounds. 8 So the Sons of Aharon, the kohanim, are (the ones) to sound-blasts on the trumpets; they shall be for you as a law for the ages, throughout your generations. 9 And when you enter into war in your land against an attacker who attacks you, blow-a-trilling-blast on the trumpets, so that you may be brought-to-mind before YHVH your elo’ah and delivered from your enemies. 10 And on the day(s) of your rejoicing, your appointed-times, and the heads of your New-moons, you are to blow-a-blast on the trumpets together with your offerings-up and together with your slaughter-offerings of shalom; they shall be of you a reminder, before your elo’ah — I am YHVH your elo’ah!”

חמישי יא וַיְהִ֞י בַּשָּׁנָ֧ה הַשֵּׁנִ֛ית בַּחֹ֥דֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִ֖י בְּעֶשְׂרִ֣ים בַּחֹ֑דֶשׁ נַעֲלָה֙ הֶֽעָנָ֔ן מֵעַ֖ל מִשְׁכַּ֥ן הָעֵדֻֽת׃ יב וַיִּסְע֧וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל לְמַסְעֵיהֶ֖ם מִמִּדְבַּ֣ר סִינָ֑י וַיִּשְׁכֹּ֥ן הֶעָנָ֖ן בְּמִדְבַּ֥ר פָּארָֽן׃ יג וַיִּסְע֖וּ בָּרִאשֹׁנָ֑ה עַל־פִּ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה בְּיַד־מֹשֶֽׁה׃ יד וַיִּסַּ֞ע דֶּ֣גֶל מַחֲנֵ֧ה בְנֵֽי־יְהוּדָ֛ה בָּרִאשֹׁנָ֖ה לְצִבְאֹתָ֑ם וְעַ֨ל־צְבָא֔וֹ נַחְשׁ֖וֹן בֶּן־עַמִּינָדָֽב׃ טו וְעַ֨ל־צְבָ֔א מַטֵּ֖ה בְּנֵ֣י יִשָּׂשכָ֑ר נְתַנְאֵ֖ל בֶּן־צוּעָֽר׃ טז וְעַ֨ל־צְבָ֔א מַטֵּ֖ה בְּנֵ֣י זְבוּלֻ֑ן אֱלִיאָ֖ב בֶּן־חֵלֹֽן׃ יז וְהוּרַ֖ד הַמִּשְׁכָּ֑ן וְנָסְע֤וּ בְנֵֽי־גֵרְשׁוֹן֙ וּבְנֵ֣י מְרָרִ֔י נֹשְׂאֵ֖י הַמִּשְׁכָּֽן׃
11 Now it was, in the second year, in the second New-moon, on the twentieth after the New-moon, that the cloud went up from above the Mishkan haÉdut, 12 and the Children of Yisra’el marched-forth on their marches, from the Wilderness of Sinai. The cloud came-to-dwell in the Wilderness of Paran. 13 They marched first, by order of YHVH, through the hand of Mosheh: 14 the contingent of the camp of Yehudah marched-forward first, by their forces; over its forces (was) Naḥshon son of Amminadav. 15 And over the forces of the tribe of the Sons of Yissakhar (was) Netan’el son of Tsu’ar. 16 And over the forces of the tribe of the Sons of Zevulun (was) Eliav son of Ḥeilon. 17 Once the Mishkan was taken down, there marched the Sons of Gershon and the Sons of Merari, carriers of the Mishkan.

יח וְנָסַ֗ע דֶּ֛גֶל מַחֲנֵ֥ה רְאוּבֵ֖ן לְצִבְאֹתָ֑ם וְעַ֨ל־צְבָא֔וֹ אֱלִיצ֖וּר בֶּן־שְׁדֵיאֽוּר׃ יט וְעַ֨ל־צְבָ֔א מַטֵּ֖ה בְּנֵ֣י שִׁמְע֑וֹן שְׁלֻֽמִיאֵ֖ל בֶּן־צוּרִֽישַׁדָּֽי׃ כ וְעַל־צְבָ֖א מַטֵּ֣ה בְנֵי־גָ֑ד אֶלְיָסָ֖ף בֶּן־דְּעוּאֵֽל׃ כא וְנָסְעוּ֙ הַקְּהָתִ֔ים נֹשְׂאֵ֖י הַמִּקְדָּ֑שׁ וְהֵקִ֥ימוּ אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֖ן עַד־בֹּאָֽם׃
18 There marched the contingent of the camp of Re’uven, by their forces; over its forces (was) Elitsur son of Shdei’ur. 19 And over the forces of the tribe of the Sons of Shim’on (was) Shelumiel son of Tsurishaddai. 20 And over the forces of the tribe of the Sons of Gad (was) Elyasaf son of De’uel. 21 There marched the Kehatim, carriers of the holy-things; they set up the Mishkan by (the time) they came.

כב וְנָסַ֗ע דֶּ֛גֶל מַחֲנֵ֥ה בְנֵֽי־אֶפְרַ֖יִם לְצִבְאֹתָ֑ם וְעַ֨ל־צְבָא֔וֹ אֱלִישָׁמָ֖ע בֶּן־עַמִּיהֽוּד׃ כג וְעַ֨ל־צְבָ֔א מַטֵּ֖ה בְּנֵ֣י מְנַשֶּׁ֑ה גַּמְלִיאֵ֖ל בֶּן־פְּדָהצֽוּר׃ כד וְעַ֨ל־צְבָ֔א מַטֵּ֖ה בְּנֵ֣י בִנְיָמִ֑ן אֲבִידָ֖ן בֶּן־גִּדְעוֹנִֽי׃
22 There marched the contingent of the camp of the Sons of Efrayim, by their forces; over its forces (was) Elishama son of Ammihud. 23 And over the forces of the tribe of the Sons of Menasheh (was) Gamliel son of Pedahtsur. 24 And over the forces of the tribe of the Sons of Binyamin (was) Avidan son of Gid’oni.

כה וְנָסַ֗ע דֶּ֚גֶל מַחֲנֵ֣ה בְנֵי־דָ֔ן מְאַסֵּ֥ף לְכׇל־הַֽמַּחֲנֹ֖ת לְצִבְאֹתָ֑ם וְעַ֨ל־צְבָא֔וֹ אֲחִיעֶ֖זֶר בֶּן־עַמִּישַׁדָּֽי׃ כו וְעַ֨ל־צְבָ֔א מַטֵּ֖ה בְּנֵ֣י אָשֵׁ֑ר פַּגְעִיאֵ֖ל בֶּן־עׇכְרָֽן׃ כז וְעַ֨ל־צְבָ֔א מַטֵּ֖ה בְּנֵ֣י נַפְתָּלִ֑י אֲחִירַ֖ע בֶּן־עֵינָֽן׃ כח אֵ֛לֶּה מַסְעֵ֥י בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לְצִבְאֹתָ֑ם וַיִּסָּֽעוּ׃
25 There marched the contingent of the camp of the Sons of Dan, rear-guard of all the camps, by their forces; over their forces (was) Ahi’ezer son of Ammishaddai. 26 And over the forces of the tribe of the Sons of Asher (was) Pag’iel son of Okhran. 27 And over the forces of the tribe of the Sons of Naftali (was) Aḥira son of Einan. 28 These (were) the marching-groups of the Children of Yisra’el by their deployed-forces; thus did they march.[2]A very organized and detailed account of how the Israelites traveled throughout the desert. This is the first time the Israelites travel since arriving at Sinai. The chapter employs information from Numbers 1-2 which detailed the names of the tribal leaders, the exact numbers of tribesmen, as well as information regarding the order of travel – one more case of P’s remarkable command-compliance paradigm. Note that this section is added prior to Moses’ discussion with Hobab, his brother in law regarding joint travel.

כט וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֗ה לְ֠חֹבָ֠ב בֶּן־רְעוּאֵ֣ל הַמִּדְיָנִי֮ חֹתֵ֣ן מֹשֶׁה֒ נֹסְעִ֣ים ׀ אֲנַ֗חְנוּ אֶל־הַמָּקוֹם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֔ה אֹת֖וֹ אֶתֵּ֣ן לָכֶ֑ם לְכָ֤ה אִתָּ֙נוּ֙ וְהֵטַ֣בְנוּ לָ֔ךְ כִּֽי־יְהֹוָ֥ה דִּבֶּר־ט֖וֹב עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ ל וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יו לֹ֣א אֵלֵ֑ךְ כִּ֧י אִם־אֶל־אַרְצִ֛י וְאֶל־מוֹלַדְתִּ֖י אֵלֵֽךְ׃ לא וַיֹּ֕אמֶר אַל־נָ֖א תַּעֲזֹ֣ב אֹתָ֑נוּ כִּ֣י ׀ עַל־כֵּ֣ן יָדַ֗עְתָּ חֲנֹתֵ֙נוּ֙ בַּמִּדְבָּ֔ר וְהָיִ֥יתָ לָּ֖נוּ לְעֵינָֽיִם׃ לב וְהָיָ֖ה כִּי־תֵלֵ֣ךְ עִמָּ֑נוּ וְהָיָ֣ה ׀ הַטּ֣וֹב הַה֗וּא אֲשֶׁ֨ר יֵיטִ֧יב יְהֹוָ֛ה עִמָּ֖נוּ וְהֵטַ֥בְנוּ לָֽךְ׃
29 Now Mosheh said to Ḥovav son of Re’uel the Midyanite, Mosheh’s father-in-law: “We are marching to the place about which YHVH promised: that-one I will give to you; go with us and we will do-good for you, for YHVH has promised good-things for Yisra’el.” 30 He said to him: “I will not go, but rather to my land and to my kindred I will go.” 31 He said: “Pray do not leave us, for after all, you know our (best place to) encamp in the wilderness, you shall be for us as eyes! 32 So it will be, if you go with us, so it will be: (from) that goodness with which YHVH will do-good for us, we will do-good for you!”[3]The first J narrative since Exodus 34, picks up where J left off, i.e. the discussion in Exodus 33 regarding who would lead the Israelites into Canaan. Note the use of “Reul” for Moses’ father-in-law, which appears in J’s Exodus 2:18.

לג וַיִּסְעוּ֙ מֵהַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֔ה דֶּ֖רֶךְ שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֑ים וַאֲר֨וֹן בְּרִית־יְהֹוָ֜ה נֹסֵ֣עַ לִפְנֵיהֶ֗ם דֶּ֚רֶךְ שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֔ים לָת֥וּר לָהֶ֖ם מְנוּחָֽה׃ לד וַעֲנַ֧ן יְהֹוָ֛ה עֲלֵיהֶ֖ם יוֹמָ֑ם בְּנׇסְעָ֖ם מִן־הַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃
33 They marched from the mountain of YHVH a journey of three days, the Arōn of YHVH’S covenant marching before them, a journey of three days, to scout out for them a resting-place. 34 Now the cloud of YHVH is over them by day, as they march from the camp.[4]Following Moses’ inconclusive discussion with Hobab, P adds that the Israelites set out, with P’s cloud leading the way.

׆   ששי לה וַיְהִ֛י בִּנְסֹ֥עַ הָאָרֹ֖ן וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֑ה קוּמָ֣ה ׀ יְהֹוָ֗ה וְיָפֻ֙צוּ֙ אֹֽיְבֶ֔יךָ וְיָנֻ֥סוּ מְשַׂנְאֶ֖יךָ מִפָּנֶֽיךָ׃ לו וּבְנֻחֹ֖ה יֹאמַ֑ר שׁוּבָ֣ה יְהֹוָ֔ה רִֽבְב֖וֹת אַלְפֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃  ׆
35 Now it was, whenever the Arōn was to march on, Mosheh would say: “Arise (to attack), O YHVH, that your enemies may scatter, that those who hate you may flee before you!” 36 And when it would rest, he would say: “Return, O YHVH, (you of) the myriad divisions of Yisra’el!”[5]The final verses of this chapter were considered out of place by the Masoretic scribal tradition and were marked off in the Hebrew text as such. Indeed, these verses, describe the ark, as a mythic salvation object, representing the deity, and are thus, quite unrelated to the previous verses which discussed Israel’s desert travels. This type of mythic addition to Pentateuchal texts is the mark of the late Bridger.

יא א וַיְהִ֤י הָעָם֙ כְּמִתְאֹ֣נְנִ֔ים רַ֖ע בְּאׇזְנֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֑ה וַיִּשְׁמַ֤ע יְהֹוָה֙ וַיִּ֣חַר אַפּ֔וֹ וַתִּבְעַר־בָּם֙ אֵ֣שׁ יְהֹוָ֔ה וַתֹּ֖אכַל בִּקְצֵ֥ה הַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃ ב וַיִּצְעַ֥ק הָעָ֖ם אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיִּתְפַּלֵּ֤ל מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶל־יְהֹוָ֔ה וַתִּשְׁקַ֖ע הָאֵֽשׁ׃ ג וַיִּקְרָ֛א שֵֽׁם־הַמָּק֥וֹם הַה֖וּא תַּבְעֵרָ֑ה כִּֽי־בָעֲרָ֥ה בָ֖ם אֵ֥שׁ יְהֹוָה׃
11 1 Now the people were like those-who-grieve (over) ill-fortune, in the ears of YHVH. When YHVH heard, his anger flared up; there blazed up against them a fire of YHVH and ate up the edge of the camp. 2 The people cried out to Mosheh and Mosheh interceded to YHVH, and the fire abated. 3 So they called the name of that place ‘Tav’era’/Blaze, for (there) had blazed against them fire of YHVH.[6] This episode revisits the Yahwistic complaint pattern. The people complain, the Lord punishes them, they call out to Moses, Moses calls out to the Lord, the Lord ceases his punishment. It is the shortest example of such an episode and is barely more than formulaic. It is likely that it was composed solely to function as the other half of a symmetric pair, within the encompassing symmetry of the Moses cycle. Its “other half” is the war against Amalek in Exodus 17:8-16 – and note the formula, “in the ears of” [translated less literally by NRSV as “in the hearing of”] which appears in both episodes (Numbers 11:1, and Exodus 17:14 – its somewhat extraneous here) and the idea of the Lord eating away at the outlying areas of the camp, which is how the war with Amalek is described in Deut 25:17-19.

ד וְהָֽאסַפְסֻף֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּקִרְבּ֔וֹ הִתְאַוּ֖וּ תַּאֲוָ֑ה וַיָּשֻׁ֣בוּ וַיִּבְכּ֗וּ גַּ֚ם בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ מִ֥י יַאֲכִלֵ֖נוּ בָּשָֽׂר׃ ה זָכַ֙רְנוּ֙ אֶת־הַדָּגָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־נֹאכַ֥ל בְּמִצְרַ֖יִם חִנָּ֑ם אֵ֣ת הַקִּשֻּׁאִ֗ים וְאֵת֙ הָֽאֲבַטִּחִ֔ים וְאֶת־הֶחָצִ֥יר וְאֶת־הַבְּצָלִ֖ים וְאֶת־הַשּׁוּמִֽים׃ ו וְעַתָּ֛ה נַפְשֵׁ֥נוּ יְבֵשָׁ֖ה אֵ֣ין כֹּ֑ל בִּלְתִּ֖י אֶל־הַמָּ֥ן עֵינֵֽינוּ׃ ז וְהַמָּ֕ן כִּזְרַע־גַּ֖ד ה֑וּא וְעֵינ֖וֹ כְּעֵ֥ין הַבְּדֹֽלַח׃ ח שָׁ֩טוּ֩ הָעָ֨ם וְלָֽקְט֜וּ וְטָחֲנ֣וּ בָרֵחַ֗יִם א֤וֹ דָכוּ֙ בַּמְּדֹכָ֔ה וּבִשְּׁלוּ֙ בַּפָּר֔וּר וְעָשׂ֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ עֻג֑וֹת וְהָיָ֣ה טַעְמ֔וֹ כְּטַ֖עַם לְשַׁ֥ד הַשָּֽׁמֶן׃ ט וּבְרֶ֧דֶת הַטַּ֛ל עַל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֖ה לָ֑יְלָה יֵרֵ֥ד הַמָּ֖ן עָלָֽיו׃
4 Now the Asafsuf/gathered-riffraff that were among them had a craving, hunger-craving, and moreover they again wept, the Children of Yisra’el, and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? 5 We recall the fish that we used to eat in Mitsrayim for free, the cucumbers, the watermelons, the green-leeks, the onions, and the garlic! 6 But now, our throats are dry; there is nothing at all except for the mahn (in front of) our eyes!” 7  — Now the mahn is like seed of coriander, its aspect like the aspect of bdellium. 8 The people would roam around and collect it, grind it in millstones or crush it in a crusher, boil it in a pot, and make it into cakes, so that its taste was like the taste of (something) rich (made with) oil. 9 And when the dew came down on the camp at night, the mahn would come down on top of it. —

י וַיִּשְׁמַ֨ע מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶת־הָעָ֗ם בֹּכֶה֙ לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֔יו אִ֖ישׁ לְפֶ֣תַח אׇהֳל֑וֹ וַיִּֽחַר־אַ֤ף יְהֹוָה֙ מְאֹ֔ד וּבְעֵינֵ֥י מֹשֶׁ֖ה רָֽע׃ יא וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶל־יְהֹוָ֗ה לָמָ֤ה הֲרֵעֹ֙תָ֙ לְעַבְדֶּ֔ךָ וְלָ֛מָּה לֹא־מָצָ֥תִי חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֶ֑יךָ לָשׂ֗וּם אֶת־מַשָּׂ֛א כׇּל־הָעָ֥ם הַזֶּ֖ה עָלָֽי׃ יב הֶאָנֹכִ֣י הָרִ֗יתִי אֵ֚ת כׇּל־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה אִם־אָנֹכִ֖י יְלִדְתִּ֑יהוּ כִּֽי־תֹאמַ֨ר אֵלַ֜י שָׂאֵ֣הוּ בְחֵיקֶ֗ךָ כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשָּׂ֤א הָאֹמֵן֙ אֶת־הַיֹּנֵ֔ק עַ֚ל הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נִשְׁבַּ֖עְתָּ לַאֲבֹתָֽיו׃ יג מֵאַ֤יִן לִי֙ בָּשָׂ֔ר לָתֵ֖ת לְכׇל־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה כִּֽי־יִבְכּ֤וּ עָלַי֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר תְּנָה־לָּ֥נוּ בָשָׂ֖ר וְנֹאכֵֽלָה׃ יד לֹֽא־אוּכַ֤ל אָנֹכִי֙ לְבַדִּ֔י לָשֵׂ֖את אֶת־כׇּל־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה כִּ֥י כָבֵ֖ד מִמֶּֽנִּי׃ טו וְאִם־כָּ֣כָה ׀ אַתְּ־עֹ֣שֶׂה לִּ֗י הׇרְגֵ֤נִי נָא֙ הָרֹ֔ג אִם־מָצָ֥אתִי חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֶ֑יךָ וְאַל־אֶרְאֶ֖ה בְּרָעָתִֽי׃
10 Mosheh heard the people weeping by their clans, each-man at the entrance to his tent. Now YHVH’s anger flared up exceedingly, and in the eyes of Mosheh it was ill. 11 Mosheh said to YHVH: “For-what have you dealt-ill with your servant, for-what-reason have I not found favor in your eyes, (that you) have placed the burden of this entire people on me? 12 Did I myself conceive this entire people, or did I myself give-birth to it, that you should say to me, ‘Carry it in your bosom like a nursing-parent carries a suckling-child, to the soil about which you swore to their fathers?’ 13 Where should I (get) meat to give to this entire people, when they weep on me, saying: ‘Give us meat so that we may eat!’ 14 I am not able, myself alone, to carry this entire people, for it is too heavy for me! 15 If thus you deal with me, pray kill me, yes, kill me, if I have found favor in your eyes, so that I do not have to see my ill-fortune![7]Since the Manna is a priestly innovation, the allusion to it in a non-priestly text must be post-priestly, in other words, this episode was likely added by the later Bridger. This episode elaborates upon the short description of the Quail in Exodus 16 (P and H), and crafts it into yet another Israelite complaint against their desert sojourn.

טז וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה אֶסְפָה־לִּ֞י שִׁבְעִ֣ים אִישׁ֮ מִזִּקְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יָדַ֔עְתָּ כִּי־הֵ֛ם זִקְנֵ֥י הָעָ֖ם וְשֹׁטְרָ֑יו וְלָקַחְתָּ֤ אֹתָם֙ אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד וְהִֽתְיַצְּב֥וּ שָׁ֖ם עִמָּֽךְ׃ יז וְיָרַדְתִּ֗י וְדִבַּרְתִּ֣י עִמְּךָ֮ שָׁם֒ וְאָצַלְתִּ֗י מִן־הָר֛וּחַ אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָלֶ֖יךָ וְשַׂמְתִּ֣י עֲלֵיהֶ֑ם וְנָשְׂא֤וּ אִתְּךָ֙ בְּמַשָּׂ֣א הָעָ֔ם וְלֹא־תִשָּׂ֥א אַתָּ֖ה לְבַדֶּֽךָ׃ יח וְאֶל־הָעָ֨ם תֹּאמַ֜ר הִתְקַדְּשׁ֣וּ לְמָחָר֮ וַאֲכַלְתֶּ֣ם בָּשָׂר֒ כִּ֡י בְּכִיתֶם֩ בְּאׇזְנֵ֨י יְהֹוָ֜ה לֵאמֹ֗ר מִ֤י יַאֲכִלֵ֙נוּ֙ בָּשָׂ֔ר כִּי־ט֥וֹב לָ֖נוּ בְּמִצְרָ֑יִם וְנָתַ֨ן יְהֹוָ֥ה לָכֶ֛ם בָּשָׂ֖ר וַאֲכַלְתֶּֽם׃ יט לֹ֣א י֥וֹם אֶחָ֛ד תֹּאכְל֖וּן וְלֹ֣א יוֹמָ֑יִם וְלֹ֣א ׀ חֲמִשָּׁ֣ה יָמִ֗ים וְלֹא֙ עֲשָׂרָ֣ה יָמִ֔ים וְלֹ֖א עֶשְׂרִ֥ים יֽוֹם׃ כ עַ֣ד ׀ חֹ֣דֶשׁ יָמִ֗ים עַ֤ד אֲשֶׁר־יֵצֵא֙ מֵֽאַפְּכֶ֔ם וְהָיָ֥ה לָכֶ֖ם לְזָרָ֑א יַ֗עַן כִּֽי־מְאַסְתֶּ֤ם אֶת־יְהֹוָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּקִרְבְּכֶ֔ם וַתִּבְכּ֤וּ לְפָנָיו֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר לָ֥מָּה זֶּ֖ה יָצָ֥אנוּ מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃
16 Then YHVH spoke to Mosheh: “Gather to me seventy men of the elders of Yisra’el, of whom you know that they are elders of the people and its officers, and take them to the Ohel Mo’ed, stationing them there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, I will extend from the rushing-spirit that is upon you and place it upon them; then they will carry along with you the burden of the people, so that you will not (have to) carry it, you alone.[8]B’s complaint episode was added to J’s account of the appointment of 70 elders (the description of the manna, followed by the Lord’s command to appoint elders is a definite non-sequitor), which parallels the Elohistic appointment of judges and leaders in Exodus 18. In Exodus 18, Jethro advised Moses to appoint elders, while in Numbers 11, the Lord commands it, this is reflective of J’ theo-centric narrative as opposed to E’s anthropocentricism. Note that B takes up J’s theme of Moses being unable to care for the people alone (“11 So Moses said to the Lord, ‘Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favour in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me?”), thus creating a bridge to J’s very different episode. 18 Now to the people you are to say: ‘Hallow yourselves for the morrow that you may eat meat, for you have wept in the ears of YHVH, saying: Who will give us meat to eat? For it was better for us in Mitsrayim! YHVH will give you meat, and you shall eat it: 19 not for (only) one day shall you eat it, and not for two days, not for five days or for ten days or (even) for twenty days — 20 (but) for a monthful of days, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes for you something-disgusting, because you have spurned YHVH who is among you, by weeping before him, saying: For-what-reason did we leave Mitsrayim?'”[9]Instead of inserting another introductory formula “And the Lord said to Moses…” in vs. 18, B smoothly inserts the divine speech following, the Lord’s command to Moses to gather the 70 elders.

כא וַיֹּ֘אמֶר֮ מֹשֶׁה֒ שֵׁשׁ־מֵא֥וֹת אֶ֙לֶף֙ רַגְלִ֔י הָעָ֕ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָנֹכִ֖י בְּקִרְבּ֑וֹ וְאַתָּ֣ה אָמַ֗רְתָּ בָּשָׂר֙ אֶתֵּ֣ן לָהֶ֔ם וְאָכְל֖וּ חֹ֥דֶשׁ יָמִֽים׃ כב הֲצֹ֧אן וּבָקָ֛ר יִשָּׁחֵ֥ט לָהֶ֖ם וּמָצָ֣א לָהֶ֑ם אִ֣ם אֶֽת־כׇּל־דְּגֵ֥י הַיָּ֛ם יֵאָסֵ֥ף לָהֶ֖ם וּמָצָ֥א לָהֶֽם׃
21 Mosheh said: “Six hundred thousand on foot (are) the (fighting-)people among whom I am, yet you, you say: ‘Meat I will give them, and they are to eat (it) for a monthful of days?!’ 22 Are there flocks and herds that may be slain for them, that they would find-them-sufficient? Or are there all the fish of the sea to be caught for them, that they would find-them-sufficient?”[10]Note the allusion to 600,000 men as the number of the Israelites (vs. 21) which otherwise only appears in P and H (e.g. Numbers 1:46).

כג וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה הֲיַ֥ד יְהֹוָ֖ה תִּקְצָ֑ר עַתָּ֥ה תִרְאֶ֛ה הֲיִקְרְךָ֥ דְבָרִ֖י אִם־לֹֽא׃
23 YHVH said to Mosheh: “Is the arm of YHVH (too) short? Now you shall see whether my word happens to you or not.”

כד וַיֵּצֵ֣א מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַיְדַבֵּר֙ אֶל־הָעָ֔ם אֵ֖ת דִּבְרֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֑ה וַיֶּאֱסֹ֞ף שִׁבְעִ֥ים אִישׁ֙ מִזִּקְנֵ֣י הָעָ֔ם וַֽיַּעֲמֵ֥ד אֹתָ֖ם סְבִיבֹ֥ת הָאֹֽהֶל׃ כה וַיֵּ֨רֶד יְהֹוָ֥ה ׀ בֶּעָנָן֮ וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר אֵלָיו֒ וַיָּ֗אצֶל מִן־הָר֙וּחַ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָלָ֔יו וַיִּתֵּ֕ן עַל־שִׁבְעִ֥ים אִ֖ישׁ הַזְּקֵנִ֑ים וַיְהִ֗י כְּנ֤וֹחַ עֲלֵיהֶם֙ הָר֔וּחַ וַיִּֽתְנַבְּא֖וּ וְלֹ֥א יָסָֽפוּ׃ כו וַיִּשָּׁאֲר֣וּ שְׁנֵֽי־אֲנָשִׁ֣ים ׀ בַּֽמַּחֲנֶ֡ה שֵׁ֣ם הָאֶחָ֣ד ׀ אֶלְדָּ֡ד וְשֵׁם֩ הַשֵּׁנִ֨י מֵידָ֜ד וַתָּ֧נַח עֲלֵהֶ֣ם הָר֗וּחַ וְהֵ֙מָּה֙ בַּכְּתֻבִ֔ים וְלֹ֥א יָצְא֖וּ הָאֹ֑הֱלָה וַיִּֽתְנַבְּא֖וּ בַּֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃ כז וַיָּ֣רׇץ הַנַּ֔עַר וַיַּגֵּ֥ד לְמֹשֶׁ֖ה וַיֹּאמַ֑ר אֶלְדָּ֣ד וּמֵידָ֔ד מִֽתְנַבְּאִ֖ים בַּֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃ כח וַיַּ֜עַן יְהוֹשֻׁ֣עַ בִּן־נ֗וּן מְשָׁרֵ֥ת מֹשֶׁ֛ה מִבְּחֻרָ֖יו וַיֹּאמַ֑ר אֲדֹנִ֥י מֹשֶׁ֖ה כְּלָאֵֽם׃ כט וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לוֹ֙ מֹשֶׁ֔ה הַֽמְקַנֵּ֥א אַתָּ֖ה לִ֑י וּמִ֨י יִתֵּ֜ן כׇּל־עַ֤ם יְהֹוָה֙ נְבִיאִ֔ים כִּי־יִתֵּ֧ן יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶת־רוּח֖וֹ עֲלֵיהֶֽם׃
24 Mosheh went out and spoke to the people the words of YHVH. He gathered seventy men from the elders of the people, and had-them-stand around the tent. 25 And YHVH came down in a cloud and spoke to him, and YHVH extended some of the rushing-spirit that was upon him and put it upon the seventy men, the elders; and it was, when the spirit rested upon them, that they acted-like-prophets, but did not continue. 26 Now two men remained in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, the name of the second, Meidad, and the spirit rested upon them — they were among those-recorded, but they had not gone out to the Tent — and they acted-like-prophets in the camp. 27 A (certain) lad ran and told Mosheh, he said: “Eldad and Meidad are acting-like-prophets in the camp!” 28 Then Yehoshua son of Nun, Mosheh’s attendant from his youth, spoke up, he said: “My lord Mosheh, contain them!” 29 But Mosheh said to him: “Are you jealous for me? O who would give that all the people of YHVH were prophets, that YHVH would put the rush-of-his spirit upon them!”

שביעי ל וַיֵּאָסֵ֥ף מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֑ה ה֖וּא וְזִקְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ לא וְר֜וּחַ נָסַ֣ע ׀ מֵאֵ֣ת יְהֹוָ֗ה וַיָּ֣גׇז שַׂלְוִים֮ מִן־הַיָּם֒ וַיִּטֹּ֨שׁ עַל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֜ה כְּדֶ֧רֶךְ י֣וֹם כֹּ֗ה וּכְדֶ֤רֶךְ יוֹם֙ כֹּ֔ה סְבִיב֖וֹת הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֑ה וּכְאַמָּתַ֖יִם עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאָֽרֶץ׃ לב וַיָּ֣קׇם הָעָ֡ם כׇּל־הַיּוֹם֩ הַה֨וּא וְכׇל־הַלַּ֜יְלָה וְכֹ֣ל ׀ י֣וֹם הַֽמׇּחֳרָ֗ת וַיַּֽאַסְפוּ֙ אֶת־הַשְּׂלָ֔ו הַמַּמְעִ֕יט אָסַ֖ף עֲשָׂרָ֣ה חֳמָרִ֑ים וַיִּשְׁטְח֤וּ לָהֶם֙ שָׁט֔וֹחַ סְבִיב֖וֹת הַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃ לג הַבָּשָׂ֗ר עוֹדֶ֙נּוּ֙ בֵּ֣ין שִׁנֵּיהֶ֔ם טֶ֖רֶם יִכָּרֵ֑ת וְאַ֤ף יְהֹוָה֙ חָרָ֣ה בָעָ֔ם וַיַּ֤ךְ יְהֹוָה֙ בָּעָ֔ם מַכָּ֖ה רַבָּ֥ה מְאֹֽד׃ לד וַיִּקְרָ֛א אֶת־שֵֽׁם־הַמָּק֥וֹם הַה֖וּא קִבְר֣וֹת הַֽתַּאֲוָ֑ה כִּי־שָׁם֙ קָֽבְר֔וּ אֶת־הָעָ֖ם הַמִּתְאַוִּֽים׃ לה מִקִּבְר֧וֹת הַֽתַּאֲוָ֛ה נָסְע֥וּ הָעָ֖ם חֲצֵר֑וֹת וַיִּהְי֖וּ בַּחֲצֵרֽוֹת׃
30 Mosheh took himself back to the camp, he and the elders of Yisra’el;[11]The seventy elders are appointed, and are granted the Lord’s spirit which causes them to prophesy ecstatically. Joshua perceives this as a threat to Moses’ leadership, but as in Numbers 12 (J), Moses evinces no jealousy. 31 and a rush-of-wind moved from YHVH and swept in quails from the sea, they spread out over the camp as far as a day’s journey here and a day’s journey there, all around the camp, and about two cubits upon the face of the ground. 32 The people arose all that day and all night, and all the morrow day, gathering the quail, the least gathered ten homers. They spread them, spread them out, all around the camp. 33 The meat was still between their teeth — (the supply) not yet exhausted, when the anger of YHVH flared up among the people, and YHVH struck down among the people an exceedingly great striking. 34 So they called the name of that place Qivrot Ha-Ta’ava/Burial-places of the Craving, for there they buried the people who had-the-craving.[12]Contrary to P and H, the desert quail were not a recurring phenomenon, meant to feed the Israelites, but rather a one time occurrence meant to teach the complaining Israelites a lesson. Perhaps B wishes to depict the Israelites as an ascetic nation enduring the purgatory of the desert before entering the promised land. 35 From Qivrot Ha-Ta’ava the people marched to Ḥatseirot, and they remained in Ḥatseirot.[13]A typical Priestly itinerary verse. It is likely that the Bridger used the name Kibroth Hataavah (the graves of gluttony) as the kernel for the quail episode.

יב א וַתְּדַבֵּ֨ר מִרְיָ֤ם וְאַהֲרֹן֙ בְּמֹשֶׁ֔ה עַל־אֹד֛וֹת הָאִשָּׁ֥ה הַכֻּשִׁ֖ית אֲשֶׁ֣ר לָקָ֑ח כִּֽי־אִשָּׁ֥ה כֻשִׁ֖ית לָקָֽח׃ ב וַיֹּאמְר֗וּ הֲרַ֤ק אַךְ־בְּמֹשֶׁה֙ דִּבֶּ֣ר יְהֹוָ֔ה הֲלֹ֖א גַּם־בָּ֣נוּ דִבֵּ֑ר וַיִּשְׁמַ֖ע יְהֹוָה׃ ג וְהָאִ֥ישׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה עָנָ֣ו מְאֹ֑ד מִכֹּל֙ הָֽאָדָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃
12 1 Now Miryam spoke, and Aharon, against Mosheh on account of the Kushit wife that he had taken-in-marriage, for a Kushit wife had he taken. 2 They said: “Is it only, solely through Mosheh that YHVH speaks? Is it not also through us that he speaks?” And YHVH heard. 3 Now the man Mosheh is exceedingly humble, more than any (other) human who is on the face of the earth.

ד וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה פִּתְאֹ֗ם אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֤ה וְאֶֽל־אַהֲרֹן֙ וְאֶל־מִרְיָ֔ם צְא֥וּ שְׁלׇשְׁתְּכֶ֖ם אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וַיֵּצְא֖וּ שְׁלׇשְׁתָּֽם׃ ה וַיֵּ֤רֶד יְהֹוָה֙ בְּעַמּ֣וּד עָנָ֔ן וַֽיַּעֲמֹ֖ד פֶּ֣תַח הָאֹ֑הֶל וַיִּקְרָא֙ אַהֲרֹ֣ן וּמִרְיָ֔ם וַיֵּצְא֖וּ שְׁנֵיהֶֽם׃ ו וַיֹּ֖אמֶר שִׁמְעוּ־נָ֣א דְבָרָ֑י אִם־יִֽהְיֶה֙ נְבִ֣יאֲכֶ֔ם יְהֹוָ֗ה בַּמַּרְאָה֙ אֵלָ֣יו אֶתְוַדָּ֔ע בַּחֲל֖וֹם אֲדַבֶּר־בּֽוֹ׃ ז לֹא־כֵ֖ן עַבְדִּ֣י מֹשֶׁ֑ה בְּכׇל־בֵּיתִ֖י נֶאֱמָ֥ן הֽוּא׃ ח פֶּ֣ה אֶל־פֶּ֞ה אֲדַבֶּר־בּ֗וֹ וּמַרְאֶה֙ וְלֹ֣א בְחִידֹ֔ת וּתְמֻנַ֥ת יְהֹוָ֖ה יַבִּ֑יט וּמַדּ֙וּעַ֙ לֹ֣א יְרֵאתֶ֔ם לְדַבֵּ֖ר בְּעַבְדִּ֥י בְמֹשֶֽׁה׃ ט וַיִּֽחַר אַ֧ף יְהֹוָ֛ה בָּ֖ם וַיֵּלַֽךְ׃
4 And YHVH said suddenly to Mosheh, to Aharon and to Miryam: “Go out, the three of you, to the Ohel Mo’ed!” The three of them went out. 5 And YHVH descended in a column of cloud and stood at the entrance to the Tent; he called out: “Aharon and Miryam!” and the two of them went out. 6 He said: “Pray hear my words: If there should be among-you-a-prophet of YHVH, in a vision to him I make-myself-known, in a dream I speak with him. 7 Not so my servant Mosheh: in all my house, trusted is he; 8 mouth to mouth I speak with him, in-plain-sight, not in riddles, and the form of YHVH (is what) he beholds. So why were you not too awestruck to speak against my servant, against Mosheh?” 9 The anger of YHVH flared up against them, and he went off.

י וְהֶעָנָ֗ן סָ֚ר מֵעַ֣ל הָאֹ֔הֶל וְהִנֵּ֥ה מִרְיָ֖ם מְצֹרַ֣עַת כַּשָּׁ֑לֶג וַיִּ֧פֶן אַהֲרֹ֛ן אֶל־מִרְיָ֖ם וְהִנֵּ֥ה מְצֹרָֽעַת׃ יא וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אַהֲרֹ֖ן אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה בִּ֣י אֲדֹנִ֔י אַל־נָ֨א תָשֵׁ֤ת עָלֵ֙ינוּ֙ חַטָּ֔את אֲשֶׁ֥ר נוֹאַ֖לְנוּ וַאֲשֶׁ֥ר חָטָֽאנוּ׃ יב אַל־נָ֥א תְהִ֖י כַּמֵּ֑ת אֲשֶׁ֤ר בְּצֵאתוֹ֙ מֵרֶ֣חֶם אִמּ֔וֹ וַיֵּאָכֵ֖ל חֲצִ֥י בְשָׂרֽוֹ׃
10 When the cloud turned away from above the Tent, here: Miryam has tsara’at like snow! When Aharon faced Miryam, here: she has tsara’at! 11 Aharon said to Mosheh: “Please, my lord, do not, pray, impose on us guilt-for-a-sin by which we were foolish, by which we sinned! 12 Do not, pray, let her be like a dead-child who, when it comes out of its mother’s womb, is eaten up in half its flesh!”

יג וַיִּצְעַ֣ק מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֶל־יְהֹוָ֖ה לֵאמֹ֑ר אֵ֕ל נָ֛א רְפָ֥א נָ֖א לָֽהּ׃
13 Mosheh cried out to YHVH, saying: “El, please, heal her, please!”

מפטיר יד וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה וְאָבִ֙יהָ֙ יָרֹ֤ק יָרַק֙ בְּפָנֶ֔יהָ הֲלֹ֥א תִכָּלֵ֖ם שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֑ים תִּסָּגֵ֞ר שִׁבְעַ֤ת יָמִים֙ מִח֣וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וְאַחַ֖ר תֵּאָסֵֽף׃
14 YHVH said to Mosheh: “If her father spat, yes, spat in her face, would she not be put-to-shame for seven days (at least)? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, afterward she may be gathered-back.”

טו וַתִּסָּגֵ֥ר מִרְיָ֛ם מִח֥וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶ֖ה שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֑ים וְהָעָם֙ לֹ֣א נָסַ֔ע עַד־הֵאָסֵ֖ף מִרְיָֽם׃ טז וְאַחַ֛ר נָסְע֥וּ הָעָ֖ם מֵחֲצֵר֑וֹת וַֽיַּחֲנ֖וּ בְּמִדְבַּ֥ר פָּארָֽן׃
15 So Miryam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not march on until Miryam had been gathered-back.[14]This is one of two mentions of Miriam in the J Moses cycle, and the two depictions are very much opposed. In Exodus 15:20-21, she is depicted as joyous leader, here she is depicted as jealous of Moses’ authority. Numbers 12 picks up on a prominent J theme (e.g. Exodus 19:20-25, 33:17-23) – access to the divine. Moses is sui generis in his access even in comparison to Aaron and Miriam. As in Numbers 11:29-30, Moses is depicted as humble, and though Miriam spoke against him, he prays on her behalf. 16 (Only) afterward did the people march on from Ḥatseirot, they encamped in the Wilderness of Paran.[15]A typical Priestly itinerary verse.

The Masoretic text presented here is from Rabbi Dr. Seth (Avi) Kadish’s Miqra al pi ha-Mesorah. For the translation in English, I have adapted the translation of Everett Fox in the Schocken Bible (1997), mostly to re-Hebraize divine names, place names, and personal names. I substituted “please” in place of Fox’s “pray” in Numbers 12:13 (the prayer of Mosheh for his sister, Miryam). Aside from these, I have made minor punctuation changes.

Notes   [ + ]

  1. בספרי ספרד ואשכנז חׇדְשֵׁכֶם֒
  2. A very organized and detailed account of how the Israelites traveled throughout the desert. This is the first time the Israelites travel since arriving at Sinai. The chapter employs information from Numbers 1-2 which detailed the names of the tribal leaders, the exact numbers of tribesmen, as well as information regarding the order of travel – one more case of P’s remarkable command-compliance paradigm. Note that this section is added prior to Moses’ discussion with Hobab, his brother in law regarding joint travel.
  3. The first J narrative since Exodus 34, picks up where J left off, i.e. the discussion in Exodus 33 regarding who would lead the Israelites into Canaan. Note the use of “Reul” for Moses’ father-in-law, which appears in J’s Exodus 2:18.
  4. Following Moses’ inconclusive discussion with Hobab, P adds that the Israelites set out, with P’s cloud leading the way.
  5. The final verses of this chapter were considered out of place by the Masoretic scribal tradition and were marked off in the Hebrew text as such. Indeed, these verses, describe the ark, as a mythic salvation object, representing the deity, and are thus, quite unrelated to the previous verses which discussed Israel’s desert travels. This type of mythic addition to Pentateuchal texts is the mark of the late Bridger.
  6. This episode revisits the Yahwistic complaint pattern. The people complain, the Lord punishes them, they call out to Moses, Moses calls out to the Lord, the Lord ceases his punishment. It is the shortest example of such an episode and is barely more than formulaic. It is likely that it was composed solely to function as the other half of a symmetric pair, within the encompassing symmetry of the Moses cycle. Its “other half” is the war against Amalek in Exodus 17:8-16 – and note the formula, “in the ears of” [translated less literally by NRSV as “in the hearing of”] which appears in both episodes (Numbers 11:1, and Exodus 17:14 – its somewhat extraneous here) and the idea of the Lord eating away at the outlying areas of the camp, which is how the war with Amalek is described in Deut 25:17-19.
  7. Since the Manna is a priestly innovation, the allusion to it in a non-priestly text must be post-priestly, in other words, this episode was likely added by the later Bridger. This episode elaborates upon the short description of the Quail in Exodus 16 (P and H), and crafts it into yet another Israelite complaint against their desert sojourn.
  8. B’s complaint episode was added to J’s account of the appointment of 70 elders (the description of the manna, followed by the Lord’s command to appoint elders is a definite non-sequitor), which parallels the Elohistic appointment of judges and leaders in Exodus 18. In Exodus 18, Jethro advised Moses to appoint elders, while in Numbers 11, the Lord commands it, this is reflective of J’ theo-centric narrative as opposed to E’s anthropocentricism. Note that B takes up J’s theme of Moses being unable to care for the people alone (“11 So Moses said to the Lord, ‘Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favour in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me?”), thus creating a bridge to J’s very different episode.
  9. Instead of inserting another introductory formula “And the Lord said to Moses…” in vs. 18, B smoothly inserts the divine speech following, the Lord’s command to Moses to gather the 70 elders.
  10. Note the allusion to 600,000 men as the number of the Israelites (vs. 21) which otherwise only appears in P and H (e.g. Numbers 1:46).
  11. The seventy elders are appointed, and are granted the Lord’s spirit which causes them to prophesy ecstatically. Joshua perceives this as a threat to Moses’ leadership, but as in Numbers 12 (J), Moses evinces no jealousy.
  12. Contrary to P and H, the desert quail were not a recurring phenomenon, meant to feed the Israelites, but rather a one time occurrence meant to teach the complaining Israelites a lesson. Perhaps B wishes to depict the Israelites as an ascetic nation enduring the purgatory of the desert before entering the promised land.
  13. A typical Priestly itinerary verse. It is likely that the Bridger used the name Kibroth Hataavah (the graves of gluttony) as the kernel for the quail episode.
  14. This is one of two mentions of Miriam in the J Moses cycle, and the two depictions are very much opposed. In Exodus 15:20-21, she is depicted as joyous leader, here she is depicted as jealous of Moses’ authority. Numbers 12 picks up on a prominent J theme (e.g. Exodus 19:20-25, 33:17-23) – access to the divine. Moses is sui generis in his access even in comparison to Aaron and Miriam. As in Numbers 11:29-30, Moses is depicted as humble, and though Miriam spoke against him, he prays on her behalf.
  15. A typical Priestly itinerary verse.

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