. . . don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness.Hebrews 3:8
Remember, the writer has substituted Meriba and Massah from Psalm 95 for “in the wilderness”, the Hebrew name for the Book of Numbers.
The LORD says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness.Psalm 95:8
The standard list of the testings in the wilderness are:
- Meriba / Massah / Rephidim
- Kadesh Barnea
I introduced the problem of Taberah in Gem 2061. I gave you the above list and also the following consecutive passages from Numbers 10 and 11 and made the comment that it didn’t take long for the rebellion to start – only three days into the journey after leaving the mountain of God the Israelites rebelled against God.
They marched for three days after leaving the mountain of the LORD, with the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant moving ahead of them to show them where to stop and rest.Numbers 10:33
Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the LORD heard everything they said. Then the LORD’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp. Then the people screamed to Moses for help, and when he prayed to the LORD, the fire stopped. After that, the area was known as Taberah (which means “the place of burning”), because fire from the LORD had burned among them there.Numbers 11:1-3
There are only two places in Scripture where Taberah is mentioned:
And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the LORD burnt among them.Numbers 11:3
You also made the LORD angry at Taberah, Massah, and Kibroth-hattaavah. And at Kadesh-barnea the LORD sent you out with this command: ‘Go up and take over the land I have given you.’ But you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God and refused to put your trust in him or obey him. Yes, you have been rebelling against the LORD as long as I have known you.Deuteronomy 9:22-24
That is all we have in Scripture concerning Taberah, the place of burning, when fire came down from heaven and burned up a number of the people. It was clearly a time when the LORD was angry with the Israelites and punished them for their rebellion. It must be included as one of those times when Israel rebelled against God in the wilderness. Yet it is hard to find the location of Taberah. The only location for Taberah I have been able to find is through the new feature of E-Sword which allows you to double click on the name and a map comes up.
The Location of Taberah
I will leave further discussion on the location of Taberah and any attempts to pin point the locations of these places for my more extensive investigation in the Nuggets. I made the comment with the latest Nugget that I had come to the end of the Nugget series on the Probability of the Messianic Prophecies and planned to use the Nuggets now for my more extensive investigation into Tracking The Tangled Trail to Taberah. Actually it is not just the matter of Taberah which is problematic. It is Sinai and all points on from there. So I will devote the Nuggets to that investigation and move the Gems on Hebrews forward at a faster pace.
Suffice to say for now, Taberah was the first of the specific rebellion places mentioned in Numbers. But is that actually true? Or is there a rebellion place before Taberah. Actually, there is, as one of my readers pointed out. He didn’t want his name mentioned because he put forward the idea tentatively, thinking that he was probably wrong. However, he will see from this inclusion in the Gems that his question was correct. I was thinking this as well. Surely Sinai, the mountain of God, was the first time the rebellion of the Israelites was manifested.
What happened while Moses and Joshua were up on the mountain? Moses went all the way to the top while Joshua was told to wait at the halfway point. In the meantime what was happening at the bottom of the mountain? For the full story you will need to read Exodus 32. But here is a snapshot of the events through selected verses I have chosen.
1When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.” . . .
. . . 4Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and moulded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” 5Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the LORD!” 6The people got up early the next morning to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. After this, they celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.
7The LORD told Moses, “Quick! Go down the mountain! Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. 8How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted down gold and made a calf, and they have bowed down and sacrificed to it. They are saying, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”
9Then the LORD said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are. 10Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation.”Exodus 32:1, 4-10
Did you notice how many times the refrain “These are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” is repeated in the above passage?
It is very clear that the people started rebelling against God while Moses was on Mt Sinai. They didn’t wait three days into the journey after leaving Sinai. They actually started their rebellion at the foot of the mountain and continued to rebel for 40 years, despite seeing God’s miraculous acts. But we know already that the people only ever got to see His acts; they did not come to understand His ways. (Psalm 103:7)
That is why the Holy Spirit says,
“TODAY WHEN YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DON’T HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS ISRAEL DID WHEN THEY REBELLED, WHEN THEY TESTED ME IN THE WILDERNESS. THERE YOUR ANCESTORS TESTED AND TRIED MY PATIENCE, EVEN THOUGH THEY SAW MY MIRACLES FOR FORTY YEARS.”Hebrews 3:7-9
That is why we have selected stories from Israel’s past to drive home the message through the book of Numbers. The rebellious events have been selected from all the other places mentioned in the summary of the journey in Numbers 33. Here is a chart of the selected places of the Israelites rebellion set in order with the other places mentioned.
|The Places of the Israelites Rebellion|
|Wilderness of Sin|
(aka Massah / Meriba)
|Wilderness of Sinai|
If you look at the list in Numbers 33 you will see there are another 18 names of places they travelled through before the Israelites came to Kadesh Barnea, their last place of rebellion. I will leave that list until I come to the relevant point in the investigation.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.Albert Einstein
The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.Mark Twain
I can understand it well; but sometimes the explanation still confuses you.Ian
Pi-Hahiroth was the first place on the near side of the Yam Suph as they stood facing the daunting prospect of crossing the water.Ian
Baal Zephon was the place they crossed over to, after the LORD parted the waters for them.Ian
These last two quotes are me clarifying explanation in the previous Gem which wasn’t as clear as it should have been. That sometimes happens. If things aren’t clear to you let me know and I will correct or clarify them. These Gems are written live.