Lesson 62: Numbers 11–12
    Footnotes

    “Lesson 62: Numbers 11–12,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

    “Lesson 62,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

    Lesson 62

    Numbers 11–12

    Introduction

    As the Israelites traveled in the wilderness, Moses grew weary of their murmuring and sought help from the Lord. As a result, the Lord chose 70 leaders to help Moses govern Israel. Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses, and the Lord chastised them for speaking against His chosen servant.

    Note: This lesson provides an opportunity for two students to teach the class. To help prepare these students to teach, provide them with a copy of the section they are to teach a few days in advance. Or you could choose to teach the section yourself.

    Suggestions for Teaching

    Numbers 11

    The Israelites complain, and Moses asks the Lord for help in governing the people

    Student Teacher 1—Numbers 11:1–10

    Invite your classmates to ponder how they usually respond when they experience challenges and frustrations. You may want to invite two or three students to share their thoughts with the class if they feel comfortable doing so.

    Explain that Numbers 11 describes some of the challenges and frustrations Moses and the Israelites experienced as they journeyed in the wilderness toward the promised land. Invite the class to look for principles as they study Numbers 11 that can help them know how to deal with the challenges and frustrations they may experience.

    Invite a student to read Numbers 11:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Israelites did when they experienced challenges and frustrations. Ask students to report what they find.

    • What did the Lord do after some people complained?

    • Why do you think the Lord was so displeased with the Israelites for complaining? (Their complaining showed ingratitude for all the Lord had done for the them.)

    Summarize Numbers 11:2–3 by explaining that the people cried unto Moses. Moses then prayed to the Lord, and the fire ceased.

    Invite a student to read Numbers 11:4–9 aloud. Invite the class to follow along and look for words or phrases indicating that some Israelites were ungrateful despite the Lord’s blessings. (You may want to explain that the phrase “flesh to eat” in verse 4 means the people desired meat or fish to eat.)

    • What words or phrases indicate that some of the children of Israel were ungrateful despite the Lord’s blessings? (As students give their answers, you may want to ask them how the word or phrase they found might show ingratitude.)

    Summarize Numbers 11:10 by explaining that Moses heard the people continue to weep or complain about their circumstances. The Lord and Moses were displeased because of these continued complaints.

    • What principle can we learn from the Israelites’ poor example? (Students may identify a variety of principles, including the following: Failing to recognize our blessings can lead us to be ungrateful to the Lord.)

    • What can we do to better recognize our blessings? How has doing this in the past helped you?

    To conclude, consider sharing your testimony of the principle you have taught. As part of this testimony, you may want to share an experience you have had when your gratitude to the Lord increased as you recognized His blessings in your life.

    Student Teacher 2—Numbers 11:11–20

    Invite a student to read Numbers 11:11–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for two challenges Moses presented to the Lord.

    • What two challenges did Moses present to the Lord?

    As students respond, write the two challenges on the board:

    Moses felt overwhelmed trying to lead a large number of people who were selfish and ungrateful.

    There was no meat for the people to eat.

    Divide the class in half. Invite one half to read Numbers 11:16–17 and the other half to read Numbers 11:18–20. Invite them to look for the solutions the Lord provided to Moses’s challenges.

    • What solution did the Lord provide to help ease Moses’s burden of leadership?

    • What solution did the Lord provide to help with the lack of meat?

    Point out that instead of merely complaining like many of his people, Moses brought his challenges and frustrations to the Lord in prayer.

    • From this account, what principle can we learn concerning what the Lord will do for us if we express our challenges and frustrations to Him? (Students may identify a principle similar to the following: If we express our challenges and frustrations to the Lord, then He can help us obtain solutions. You may want to explain that our prayers are not always answered immediately and that the Lord can strengthen us to endure as we patiently seek His help to obtain solutions.)

    • When have you felt blessed because you expressed your challenges and frustrations to the Lord, rather than just complaining about them?

    To conclude, consider sharing your testimony of the principle you have taught. As part of this testimony, you may want to share an experience you have had when you felt blessed after you expressed your challenges and frustrations to the Lord.

    After the student teachers conclude, thank them for teaching.

    Invite a student to read Numbers 11:24–25 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for how the Lord relieved Moses’s burden of leadership.

    • How did the Lord relieve Moses’s burden?

    Explain that verse 25 teaches that these 70 elders were blessed to receive revelation and speak as inspired by the Holy Ghost. Summarize Numbers 11:26–28 by explaining that Joshua (Moses’s servant and successor) suggested to Moses that he stop two of the elders from prophesying.

    Ask a student to read Numbers 11:29 aloud, and invite the class to look for how Moses responded to Joshua’s concern.

    • What do you think Moses meant when he said that he would like it if all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Spirit rested upon them? (Moses was not saying that he wanted everyone to be a prophet to lead and receive revelation for the Church. Rather, he likely meant that he would like it if all people lived worthy to receive revelation for their own lives, callings, and responsibilities.)

    • What truth is implied in Moses’s desire “that all the Lord’s people were prophets”? (Students may use different words, but they should identify a principle such as the following: If we are spiritually prepared and worthy, we can receive revelation. You may want to write this principle on the board.)

    You may want to briefly share an experience you have had when you were blessed by receiving revelation for your own life. Consider inviting students to also share if they feel comfortable doing so.

    Summarize Numbers 11:30–35 by explaining that in response to Moses’s prayer, the Lord also provided an abundance of quail for the Israelites to eat. As the people gathered the quail, many overindulged and gathered more than was needed. The Lord was again angry with them (apparently because they lusted after or hoarded the quail—again showing ingratitude). The Lord then sent a plague, and many Israelites died.

    Numbers 12

    Aaron and Miriam speak against Moses

    Ask a student to read aloud the following situations when people criticized the Savior or the Lord’s prophets:

    The Savior was criticized for eating with sinners (see Luke 15:2) and was accused of being in league with Beelzebub (see Luke 11:14–15). Abinadi and Paul were both judged to be insane (see Mosiah 13:1; Acts 26:24). Nephi’s brothers mocked him when he followed the Lord’s instruction to build a ship (see 1 Nephi 17:17–18). Samuel was cast out of the land of Zarahemla because he was a Lamanite and because his prophecies offended the wicked (see Helaman 13:2; 14:10). Joseph Smith was accused of deserting the Saints when, in June 1844, he crossed the river into Iowa to avoid being taken to Carthage (see History of the Church, 6:549).

    Invite students to look for truths as they study Numbers 12 that can help them when they hear or read about criticisms directed against the Lord or Church leaders.

    Ask a student to read Numbers 12:1–3 aloud, and invite the class to look for why Miriam and Aaron (Moses’s sister and brother) criticized Moses.

    • Why did Miriam and Aaron criticize Moses?

    Explain that the Lord authorized Moses’s marriage to the Ethiopian woman (see D&C 132:1, 38). Therefore, Miriam and Aaron had no basis to criticize Moses for the marriage.

    • In addition to criticizing Moses because of the marriage, what else might Miriam and Aaron’s words in verse 2 suggest? (Their words might suggest that because the Lord had also spoken by them, or given them revelation, they thought they were equal in status to the prophet Moses.)

    Point out the phrase “and the Lord heard it” at the end of verse 2. Then invite a student to read Numbers 12:3–9 aloud. Invite the class to follow along and look for the Lord’s response to Aaron and Miriam’s criticism of Moses.

    • According to verses 6–8, how was Moses different from others who may receive revelation? (The Lord appeared to Moses and spoke directly to him.)

    • What truths can we learn from the Lord’s words in verses 6–8? (Students may use different words, but they should identify truths similar to the following: The Lord speaks to His prophets. The Lord reveals His will to the leaders He has chosen. You may want to write these truths on the board.)

    To help students further understand these truths, consider asking a student to read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

    President Boyd K. Packer

    “The Lord’s house is a house of order. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that ‘it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or any one [else], to receive instruction for those in authority, higher than themselves’ [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 21].

    “You may receive revelation individually, as a parent for your family, or for those for whom you are responsible as a leader or teacher, having been properly called and set apart.

    “If one becomes critical and harbors negative feelings, the Spirit will withdraw. Only when they repent will the Spirit return. My experience is that the channels of inspiration always follow that order. You are safe following your leaders” (“Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 61).

    Ask students to consider how the truths they have learned from Numbers 12 can help them when they encounter someone who is criticizing the Lord or Church leaders. Summarize Numbers 12:10–16 by explaining that because she criticized the Lord’s chosen servant, Miriam was struck with leprosy and was shut out of the camp for seven days. The Lord then healed her, and she returned to the camp.

    Conclude by inviting one or two students to testify of the truths they have learned from Numbers 12.

    Commentary and Background Information

    Numbers 11:29. “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets”

    The word prophets as used in Numbers 11:29 does not refer to presiding authorities of the Church. Rather, the word is likely used in a general sense to describe anyone who receives revelation through the Holy Ghost. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

    “The spirit of revelation is available to every person. … This blessing is not restricted to the presiding authorities of the Church; rather, it belongs to and should be operative in the life of every man, woman, and child who reaches the age of accountability and enters into sacred covenants. Sincere desire and worthiness invite the spirit of revelation into our lives” (“The Spirit of Revelation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 87).

    Numbers 12:3. “Moses was very meek”

    The statement in Numbers 12:3 that “Moses was very meek” suggests that he was patient with Miriam and Aaron when they spoke against him. Elder Ulisses Soares of the Seventy taught:

    “Meekness is vital for us to become more Christlike. Without it we won’t be able to develop other important virtues. Being meek does not mean weakness, but it does mean behaving with goodness and kindness, showing strength, serenity, healthy self-worth, and self-control.

    “Meekness was one of the most abundant attributes in the Savior’s life. He Himself taught His disciples, ‘Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart’ [Matthew 11:29]” (“Be Meek and Lowly of Heart,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 9).