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The Melons and Cucumbers of Egypt

July 31st, 2005

“Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”

(Numbers 11:4-6)

God was not pleased with most of the children of Israel in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:5). Moses observed, “And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled” (Numbers 11:1). We are told in Scripture that, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Ps. 103:8). So, what was Israel’s real problem, after all, God had blessed this people with unimaginable blessings? Numbers 11 and Psalm 106 contain information about what really happened in the wilderness:

1. They complained despite the provisions of God (Numb. 11:1).
2. They preferred the delicacies of Egypt (Numb. 11:6).
3. They forgot what God had done for them (Ps. 106:7,13, 21).

The melons and cucumbers of Egypt are but symbols of what was most important to the Israelites. Their legacy is an example of rebellion (Hebrews 3:8). Their rebellion was religious rebellion: for they rejected Moses, the chosen (Ps. 106:16,23); they rejected true worship (Ps. 106:19); and, ultimately, they rejected their God (Ex. 16:8; 1 Sam. 8:7,8; 10:18,19).

Christians, too, must take care not to complain, prefer the world, or forget.

-Robert M. Housby

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