Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | June 9, 2021

Deadly Quail

(4 Minute Read. 9Jun2021)

Last week I reported on last winter’s Quail Hunt with my good friend John. We were thrilled to each get a bird, and they were very tasty.

But quail have not always been delectable. On one occasion they were actually loathsome and led to many deaths. As you read on, consider how what happened with deadly quail could be relevant to your life today.

California Quail

Quail in the Bible

Yahweh used quail to miraculously feed the Israelites in the wilderness on their 40-year camping trip traveling from Egypt to Canaan. Quail were also associated with a deadly plague on Israel.

Do you remember how Yahweh delivered His people Israel from terrible oppression and suffering in Egypt through the Ten Plagues? How long do you think the Israelites remembered to be thankful for the amazing miracles and interventions on their behalf? The answer is surprising — and it is crucial for our instruction.

In only the second month of the Israelites’ journey, even before they reached Mt. Sinai, they became discontent. The people forgot all of Yahweh’s remarkable blessings to be thankful for and began grumbling and complaining about what they had to eat. They said to Moses and Aaron,
Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:3)

In response the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’” (Exodus 16:12)

That evening quails came up and covered the camp, and the Lord began the daily provision of manna (bread) the next morning (Exodus 16:13-31). Quail were the first provision of food from the Lord for the Israelites, even preceding the manna.

After they left Mt. Sinai in the second year of their journey, the people continued to grumble and complain:
The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” . . . Now Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, each man at the doorway of his tent; and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly, and Moses was displeased. (Numbers 11:4-6, 10)

Despite the Lord’s anger over Israel’s complaints, He told Moses He would provide meat for the people to eat:
“Say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the ears of the Lord, saying, “Oh that someone would give us meat to eat! For we were well-off in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat and you shall eat. You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you; because you have rejected the Lord who is among you and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’” But Moses said, “The people, among whom I am, are 600,000 on foot; yet You have said, ‘I will give them meat, so that they may eat for a whole month.’ Should flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to be sufficient for them? Or should all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to be sufficient for them?” The Lord said to Moses, “Is the Lord’s power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.” (Numbers 11:18-23)

The Lord again brought a huge flock of quail to feed Israel (Numbers 11:31-34). The quail piled up three feet deep for a distance of a day’s journey surrounding the camp. What an enormous supply of food from Yahweh!

Looking at this massive display of over-abundance, how does the heart of faith respond? Does a heart of faith say something like this?
“Our Great Creator has such power and such generosity! We can trust Him to provide every need!”
Is this how Israel responded? No, they did not! Their selfish, faithless reaction was frantic hoarding!

The people spent all day and all night and all the next day gathering the quail. The least that anyone gathered was ten homers of quail (Numbers 11:32). A Biblical homer was a unit of volume used for liquids and dry goods equivalent to 220 liters or 58 gallons. Thus 10 homers of quail was about 19 thirty-gallon barrels full of quail! And that is the least anyone gathered! Thus each person gathered a huge amount of quail meat.

With so many quail to clean and prepare, I imagine the Israelites soon figured out how to plunge their clawed fingers into the birds and rip out the raw breast meat, just as the pheasant hunter had demonstrated as described in Quail Hunt. That would be the fastest way to procure the meat from all the birds.

But the people’s greed in grabbing up so many quail angered the Lord. With the quail meat just barely in their mouths, before they even chewed it, the Lord struck the people with a very severe plague. The plague killed some of Israel’s strongest and subdued their choice men (Psalm 78:26-31). At the very place where they collected the quail, there they buried the people who had been greedy and faithless.

Quail Lessons:
Thankfulness & Contentment

Scripture says the accounts in the Old Testament were given for our instruction. (1 Corinthians 10:11)

What can we learn from Israel’s experience with quail in the wilderness?

I see two main lessons to learn from Israel, and they are supported by verses from the New Testament:
1. Instead of grumbling and complaining, choose to be thankful.
In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; (Ephesians 5:20)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)
Rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:7 ESV)
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

2. Instead of being greedy, choose to be content.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. (Philippians 4:11)
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. . . If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. (1 Timothy 6:6,8)
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

You can control your own attitudes. Deliberately choosing to be thankful and content is important for a life that is pleasing to God, a peaceful life of joy and satisfaction.

Questions to Ponder

1. What do you grumble and fuss about? Does it make logical sense to complain this way?
2. Are gratitude and contentment characteristic of your personality?
3. To whom can you express special thanks today?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

For Christ and His Kingdom. Soli Deo Gloria. Alere Flammam Veritatis.

Read the prequel:
Quail Hunt

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday June 9, 2021 A.D.

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

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