“Unit 13: Day 2, Numbers 11–12,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 13: Day 2,” Old Testament Study Guide
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 the people. Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses, and the Lord chastised them for speaking against His chosen servant.
Consider how you normally respond to challenging or frustrating experiences.
Numbers 11 describes some of the challenges and frustrations Moses and the Israelites experienced as they journeyed in the wilderness toward the promised land. As you study Numbers 11, look for principles that could help you respond to the challenges and frustrations in your life.
Read Numbers 11:1, looking for what the people of Israel did when they experienced challenges and frustrations.
What did the Lord do after the people complained? The Lord was likely displeased with the Israelites’ complaining because it showed their ingratitude for all He had done for them.
In Numbers 11:2–3 we learn that the people “cried unto Moses.” Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire ceased.
Read Numbers 11:4–9, looking for words or phrases indicating that some Israelites continued to be ungrateful despite the Lord’s blessings. It may help to know that “flesh to eat” in verse 4 means the people wanted meat or fish to eat rather than the manna that they had been eating.
Write one of the words or phrases you found, and explain how it illustrates that the Israelites continued to be ungrateful despite the Lord’s blessings: ____________
In Numbers 11:10 Moses heard the people continue to weep or complain about their circumstances. The Lord and Moses were displeased because of these continued complaints. One principle we can learn from the Israelites’ poor example is that failing to recognize our blessings can lead us to be ungrateful to the Lord.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some things you can do to better recognize your blessings?
How can doing these things help you?
Read Numbers 11:11–14, and summarize two challenges Moses faced and presented to the Lord:
Instead of merely complaining like many of his people, Moses took his challenges and frustrations to the Lord in prayer. Read Numbers 11:16–17, and find the solution the Lord provided to help ease Moses’s burden of leadership.
The people had complained to Moses about not having meat to eat, and Moses then prayed to the Lord. The Lord responded in mercy. Read Numbers 11:18–20, and find the solution the Lord provided to help with the lack of meat.
Complete the following principle based on what you learned from Moses’s experience: If we express our challenges and frustrations to the Lord, then .
- In your scripture study journal, write about a time when you have felt blessed because you presented your challenges and frustrations to the Lord, rather than just complaining about them. Consider sharing what you write with a family member or friend.
Read Numbers 11:24–25, looking for more information on how the Lord relieved Moses’s burden of leadership.
Verse 25 teaches that these 70 elders were blessed to receive revelation and speak as inspired by the Holy Ghost. Numbers 11:26–28 records that Joshua (Moses’s servant and successor) said that Moses should stop two of the elders from prophesying.
Read Numbers 11:29, looking for Moses’s response to Joshua’s concern.
When Moses said he would like it if all the Lord’s people were prophets, he was not saying that he wished everyone was 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.
One truth we can learn from Moses’s desire “that all the Lord’s people were prophets” is this: If we are spiritually prepared and worthy, we can receive revelation.
Numbers 11:30–35 records that, in response to Moses’s prayer, the Lord provided an abundance of quail for the Israelites to eat. As they gathered the quail, many overindulged and gathered more than they needed. The Lord was again angry with them, apparently because they lusted after or hoarded the quail—again showing ingratitude. The Lord sent a plague, and many Israelites died.
In Moses’s time, as in the Church today, some individuals were tempted to criticize or speak against the Lord’s chosen servants. As you study Numbers 12, look for truths that can help when you or others are tempted to speak against Church leaders.
Read Numbers 12:1–3, looking for why Miriam and Aaron (Moses’s sister and brother) criticized Moses.
The Lord authorized Moses’s marriage to the Ethiopian woman (see D&C 132:6–7, 38). Therefore, Miriam and Aaron should not have criticized Moses because of the marriage.
Notice that Numbers 12:2 suggests that Miriam and Aaron felt that because the Lord had also spoken by them, or given them revelation, they also had authority to speak for God.
Read Numbers 12:4–9, looking 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’s words in Numbers 12:6–8 indicate that Moses received greater manifestations of revelation than the other Israelites. From the Lord’s words in these verses, we learn the following truths: The Lord speaks to His prophets. The Lord reveals His will to the leaders He has chosen.
As you study the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, underline words or phrases that help you better understand those two truths:
“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, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 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).
- Read again the scenario that you wrote in which a person might be tempted to criticize or speak against a Church leader. In your scripture study journal, write a few sentences explaining why you feel it is important to know that the Lord speaks to His prophets and reveals His will to the leaders He has chosen.
If you have concerns about the actions of one of your Church leaders, you can share your concerns with another leader, such as your stake or district president.
In Numbers 12:10–16 we learn 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. Miriam’s experience can represent the spiritual consequences that can come as a result of criticizing or speaking against the Lord’s chosen servants. Her experience also shows that the Lord extends His mercy to those who repent.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Numbers 11–12 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: