Numbers 11:1

And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.

And when the people complained,.... Or "were as complainers" {p}; not merely like to such, but were truly and really complainers, the k, "caph", here being not a note of similitude, but of truth and reality, as in Hosea 5:10. This Hebraism is frequent in the New Testament, Matthew 14:5. What they complained of is not said, it being that for which there was no foundation; it is generally supposed to be of their journey; but if they were come but eight miles, as observed on Numbers 10:33; they could not be very weary; and especially as they were marching towards the land of Canaan, it might be thought they would be fond and eager of their journey. Some think it was for want of flesh, being weary of manna, and that this was only the beginning of their complaints on that head, which opened more afterwards; but if that is the case, one would think that the fire, which consumed many of them, would have put a stop to that. Jarchi says, the word signifies taking an occasion, and that the sense is, that these men sought an occasion how to separate from the Lord; they wanted to return to Egypt again, that was what they were meditating and contriving; so the Targum of Jonathan,

"and the ungodly of the people were in distress, and intended and meditated evil before the Lord:''

it displeased the LORD: a murmuring complaining spirit is always displeasing to him, when a thankful heart for mercies received is an acceptable sacrifice; murmurers and complainers God will judge at the great day, Jude 1:14;

and the LORD heard it: though it was an inward secret complaint, or an evil scheme formed in their minds; at most but a muttering, and what Moses had not heard, or had any knowledge of; but God, that knows the secrets of all hearts, and every word in the tongue before it is well formed or pronounced, he heard what they complained of, and what they whispered and muttered to one another about:

and his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burnt among them; from the pillar of fire, or from heaven, such as destroyed Nadab and Abihu, Leviticus 10:1; the two hundred fifty men that had censers in Korah's company, Numbers 16:35; and the captains of fifties that came to take Elijah, 2 Kings 1:14; and might be lightning from heaven, or a burning wind sent by the Lord, such as is frequent in the eastern countries. Thevenot {q} speaks of one in 1658, which destroyed at once twenty thousand men:

and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp; who very likely were the principal aggressors; or it began to arouse and terrify the body of the people, and bring them to repentance, who might fear it would proceed and go through the whole camp, the hinder part or rearward of which was the camp of Dan; and so the Targum of Jonathan.

{p} Mynnatmk "ut conquerentes injuste", Montanus, Fagius, Vatablus; "ut qui vaba moliuntur", Drusius.
{q} Travels, par. 1. l. 2. c. 34.