Chapter 9 is interesting, because it describes the presence of Yahweh in relation to the Tabernacle. When the Tabernacle was set up, Yahweh appeared as a cloud covering the Tabernacle during the day, and as appeared as fire at night. And when the cloud left, the people journeyed, with the to the spot where the cloud lay.
I also think the language of the Bible is too strong. It reads that individuals are "cut off" from the people, and it implies a kind of permanence. But I'm getting the sense that those who were cut off were usually just temporarily so, because of some perceived uncleanliness of the individual. And I'm not turning into an apologist here, far from it. If we can parallel our own society with their's, we can see that their perceptions of 'uncleanliness', and any subsequent punishments, are based purely on superstition.
Chapter 10 is all about how large the Israelite population is. It gives instructions on using two silver trumpets, to get everyone moving. And Chapter 10 also talks about how great the Israelite army is. So, Chapter 10 is all 'huff and puff', so to speak.
After moving and setting up camp, moving and setting up camp, over and over, SOME people started complaining. The all-knowing Creator of the Universe (or so say modern day religious people) got angry at the complaining and just ripped into the tail end of the procession, sending fire down and basically just mangling and burning all sorts of people. SOME of whom, I presume, were not complaining. But still, what's the big deal about complaining?
Moses says a prayer and Yahweh stops the tirade.
Next, the people start bitching about the manna that has been provided to them. "We remember all the good stuff we ate as slaves in Egypt, now all we have is this manna crap," they would say.
Moses too, is upset. But not at Yahweh. He's upset at these damned soft Israelites. So upset, he even says something kind of funny. "Why do I have to be in charge of these people? Why can't you, God, take them into your bosom, as a nursing father bears the sucking child?"
And then, the craziest thing has yet to happen. The people want meat. So Moses and God talk it over, and decide on a rather devious plan. "Oh, they want meat, huh? I'll show them! I'll give them so much meat that it'll come out their noses," sayeth the Almighty.
Yahweh then brings a wind that sends countless multitudes of quail dropping like flies onto the camp of the Israelites. And they, who are now happy that their prayers (and complaints) have been answered, start collecting the quail and cooking and eating them.
But they were tricked! While they were chewing on the tasty quail, Yahweh sent a "great plague" upon the people, and smote many of them. (Numbers 11:33).
What's the moral of the story here? Don't complain. Don't ask Yahweh for anything. If you do, He might send TOO MUCH, and He may very well kill you!
What the f*ck!?!