After more than a year of freedom from the bondage of Egypt and enjoying the unique blessings of being God’s chosen people, the Israelites were an ungrateful mass of humanity. As they traveled in the wilderness, they complained numerous times about various inconveniences. God was prompt to punish the complainers, but would also yield to their desires.
Earlier in their journey, the Israelites had complained about the lack of bread. God sent manna that could be ground into flour or meal for bread. As they tired of the manna, they asked for meat. God sent them an abundance of quails, but because of their ingratitude and greed, He struck them with a plague and many died in that place.
The responsibility of leadership began to be overwhelming for Moses. He even asked God to kill him, but God’s plan had not been fulfilled. The Lord did, however, allow Moses to choose seventy elders to help him with his responsibilities.
Moses not only faced the complaining of the Israelites, but also from his own brother, Aaron and sister. They confronted him with their grievances. Apparently, jealousy caused them to accuse Moses of taking on too much authority. As a lesson in humility, God struck Miriam with leprosy causing her to be expelled from the camp for seven days until she became clean once again. After that, the Israelites continued their move toward Canaan.