And there went forth a wind from the Lord…
Both an east
wind and a south wind, according to (Psalms 78:26) ; either first one wind,
and then another; one to bring the quails, or whatever are meant, to a
certain point, and then the other to bring them to the camp of Israel;
or a southeast wind, as the Jewish writers interpret it: however, it
was not a common wind, but what was immediately raised by the Lord for
the following purpose:
and brought quails from the sea;
the Red sea, from the coasts of it,
not out of it. Josephus F20 says, there were great numbers of this sort
of fowl about the gulf of Arabia; and Diodorus Siculus F21 says, near
Rhinocalura, a place not far from those parts, quails in flocks were
brought from the sea, which the people caught and lived upon. After
Job Ludolphus, who has wrote a learned dissertation on locusts, many
are of opinion with him, that locusts are intended here, and think that
what is hereafter related best agrees with them; it is pretty difficult
to determine which is most correct; there are learned advocates, and much
to be said, for both F23:
and let [them] fall by the camp:
the camp of Israel, and round about it
on all sides, as follows; which agrees well enough with locusts, which
are usually brought by a wind, as the locusts of Egypt were by an east
wind, which fall, rest, and settle on the earth, and sometimes in
heaps, one upon another; and these, whatever they were, fell as thick
as rain, and were as dust, and as the sand of the sea. The Jewish
writers, who understand them of quails, interpret this not of their
falling to the ground, but of their flying low, two cubits from the
earth, about the breast of a man, so that they had no trouble in taking
them; so the Targum of Jonathan, Jarchi, Ben Gersom, and Abendana; but
this seems to be without any foundation:
as it were a day's journey on this side, and as it were a day's
journey on the other side, round about the camp;
on the north side,
and on the south side, as the Targum of Jonathan explains it; but it
doubtless means on all sides, since they fell round about the camp;
and from thence they lay thick upon the ground, a day's journey every
way; which some compute at sixteen, others at twenty miles on which
space there must be a prodigious number of quails or locusts; and it
is certain the latter do come in great numbers, so as to darken the
air, and to cover a country, as they did Egypt; and the quails also,
in some countries, have been taken in great numbers; in Italy, on the
coast of Antium, within a month, in the space of five miles, 100,000
quails were taken every day F24:
and as it were two cubits [high] upon the face of the earth;
fell they lay one upon another, the height of two cubits; which it is
thought better agrees with locusts than with quails, since the quails,
by lying one upon another such a depth, must be suffocated; whereas the
locusts, through the length of their feet, and the thinness of their
wings, would not.
F20 Antiqu. l. 3. c. 1. sect. 5.
F21 Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 55.
F23 Vid. Calmet's Dictionary in the word "Quails", & Scheuchzer.
Physica Sacr. in loc. Bishop of Clogher's Chronology, p. 375, 376.
Shaw's Travels, p. 189.
F24 Blond. ltal. Illustrat. p. 314. apud Huet. Alnetan. Quaest. l. 2. c.
12. sect. 17.