Why God Allowed the Israelites to Gorge on Quail

by Joshua Tilghman on March 6, 2016

letting ego goToday’s post is dedicated to those who may be going through a trial. I am writing it because I myself am currently going through a trail that has taken quite an emotional toll. I know I will overcome it, especially when I put it into the perspective of why we are all here to experience life. Adversity is our friend when we allow it to be, for at some point it, when we yield, and only when we yield, it can reveal our spiritual nature.

During our trials, how we proceed is up to us, our God-given free will. And the hard question in life is often, how do we proceed?

Perhaps the best answer to how to we proceed lies in how we yield. Sometimes realizing the ego for what it is and then completely yielding without any plan of action allows for great spiritual revelation and truth to be revealed to us. Once that truth is realized, then we can act in the proper direction. Sometimes we just have to be patient and wait, to get still and know that God IS. I have found that it is during these times our greatest realized truths manifest.

I am reminded of the scripture from Romans 8:28 that states:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, and are called according to his purpose.”

Paul wrote that scripture to give us comfort, and that in the grand scheme of things, we are to keep our spirits up and KNOW that all will be well.

I am also reminded of the journey of the Israelites to the Promised Land. I have written about this life process before, but I have never addressed certain details of this journey through the wilderness (the arena of life on the lower planes), like the time God allowed a wind to blow up some quail and many of the Israelites gorged themselves to death. It is an interesting allegory told in Numbers chapter 11 that reveals a deep spiritual truth.

Numbers chapter eleven starts out with the Israelites complaining. After the Lord consumes the “outermost” part of the camp, Moses prays and the fire is quenched. In reality, such a spectacle would shut the people up, but the allegory then proceeds to tell us that the mixed multitude of the camp began complaining for meat to eat (As you will see, this allegory is not about wanting food).

They specifically state that they remember the things which they had in Egypt, and how their souls are now dried up because they are lacking.

Numbers 11:5 states:

“We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely…”

So first the complaining starts. But an interesting interjection is that in the midst of this complaining, the Lord continued to drop mana during the protest (more on why this is important later).

The complaining attitude continues to the point where even Moses begins to complain. Numbers 11:13 states,

“Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? For they weep unto me, saying, give us flesh to eat.”

As the story goes on, God tells Moses to instruct the people to consecrate themselves before the Lord. He tells Moses,

“Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days. But even a whole month, until it come out of your nostrils, and it becomes loathsome to you: because that you have despised the Lord which is among you…” (Numbers 11:19-20).

I am purposely bolding the portions of the scriptures I want you to pay attention to. I will talk about the importance of these symbols shortly.

The chapter culminates with the Lord fulfilling the people’s desire.

“And there went forth a wind from the Lord, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day’s journey on this side, and a day’s journey on that side, round about the camp, as it were two cubits upon the face of the earth. And the people gathered the quails…and yet while the flesh was between their teeth, ere it was chewed…the Lord smote the people with a very great plague. And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted” (Numbers 11:31-34).

Many of the symbols in this allegory are patterned together. Fish, flesh, Egypt, lust, teeth, quails and the sea, and they all culminate in the meaning of Kibrothhattaavah, the name which the Israelites called the place after the incident. Fish has a few meanings in scripture, but in this instance it represents ideas, feelings, emotions, all the things we experience on the lower mental plane (knowledge of this world). Egypt represents the same: it is the place for of objects of desire. Flesh and quail symbolize the desires of the lower ego themselves. The reason why the Lord brought the quail up from the sea is because the sea always denotes the astral-desire nature. This aspect of ourselves is an illusion, which basically means there is no abiding reality or truth in it. And finally, the name Kibrothhattaavah means graves of longing, lending more support that it is the desire nature which eventually leads to death. The astute reader realizes that in life, when we are led by the ego, we long for things which have no abiding reality, no long-term happiness, but in the end only leads to pain and suffering. Teeth, especially the imagery we get of the quail flesh being chewed up in them as the Lord deals out punishment, denotes the negative mind desires and the karma it brings for a season.

It is interesting to note that after the Lord’s fire (purging truth) that consumes the people in the beginning of the chapter, the people again complain, even during the times the Lord provides them with manna. Manna represents the truth of the higher emotions, which sustain the soul and are of an abiding reality. But the ego is not satisfied with this abiding reality, which is why the people would rather fulfill their desire natures, even though it will eventually lead to spiritual death. This is why it is so important to crucify the ego. We shall never see the Promised Land until this process is completed.

The easy and prosperous solution for the Israelites in this allegory was to remain steadfast and abide in the manna that the Lord was already dealing out. And even though it was right in front of them, the ego could not see it.

Even in the midst of our trials, it is hard to see that the Lord is working everything out for those that love and wait on His higher truths. Sometimes, as I said earlier, the answer is to just wait. To be still. To know that he is God. This is why it is also so important to maintain a regular meditation program, where the mind and its desires are naturally kept at bay. This is the process of crucifying the ego. The higher self will deal out manna during this process. We just to have to be faithful over the long term to receive it.

Remember that Paul also said in Romans that the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and joy, and peace in the Holy Ghost. But as Jesus said in Luke 17:21, this kingdom is within us, and to find it we must go within. The daily practice of getting still before the Lord in meditation will crucify the desire nature, and during this process the mind will naturally begin to receive manna.

In the midst of my own trial, I have been tempted to retreat into the vices of the flesh, which are a day’s journey in either direction in the wilderness. This day’s journey in any direction is the wide arena of life, the wide gate so easy to indulge in. And when we do, the end result is some sort of pain and suffering. But the Israelite camp was not totally wiped out here. Even though Numbers makes it clear that all of the camp was complaining (except the two men that prophesized in the midst of them), the Lord only killed some of them. We will not win every battle against the desire nature, but we must resume course. Just as the Lord said he was among them while they complained, He is among you as well. So if trying to fix your situation by certain courses of action has not worked, try yielding. Great results can come from it.

So why did the Lord allow the Israelites to gorge on quail? He could have easily denied it in this allegory, but the story reveals certain truths about the lower ego and how powerful and hard it can be to crucify. We have come here to experience, and that experience requires the ego, and in that sense it is a good thing. But we must yield to transform it. It’s a natural process designed to bring higher consciousness awareness to the soul, where we can manifest this awareness on the higher planes if we prevail.

The Israelites had to go through many more trials before getting to the Promised Land, and even then they had to receive it. The only adults from that first generation to enter were Joshua and Caleb. All the others had to die out. This reveals to us that the lower nature must die also, in order to enter abiding life.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Gord March 6, 2016 at 8:44 pm

I’ll keep you in my heart and meditation through your suffering.
I really appreciate your writing because it reveals so much to me and I do not have a lot of time to spend researching these matters
I am a therapist and spend most of my readings\research in psychology. I teach mindfulness and meditation so your material really brings a lot together for me


Joshua Tilghman March 6, 2016 at 9:11 pm


It’s an honor to have someone on the blog who is a professional therapist, and most likely an expert in psychology. I say this because there is no greater psychology book than the Bible and other Eastern scriptures, once we know how to interpret them correctly. They reveal so much of the seemingly hidden motives behind the thoughts and actions of man, based on his true emotional, mental, and physiological makeup. Thanks for commenting.


Paul March 7, 2016 at 7:25 am

From my perspective you hit on the most important issues of life here. Our sufferings are the blessings that pour forth from the windows of heaven once we “bring [our] tithes into the storehouse.” ((These “tithes” have nothing to do with money.)) That’s why there’s so much suffering in the world. It is how life is designed. They are purposeful. However, they are never meant to harm us, but “according to your faith, be it unto you.” They are to be used to assist us in our transformation. It is critical to understand the glory at the end of the suffering, IF, as you so powerfully bring out, we simply wait for it.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (1 Pet. 4:12-13)


“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Psa. 27:14)

Fabulous article, Josh.


Joshua Tilghman March 7, 2016 at 9:04 am

Paul, thanks for the encouragement and the relevant scriptures you added to the discussion. Another saying comes to mind, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die.” We need to understand that our trials can be great tools of growth.


Raymond Phelan March 8, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Hi Josh,
I too would like to offer all peace and contentment during your time of trial which I’m certain is working out perfectly for you, and for all concerned.

It’s a while, as you know, since I’ve last contributed to SOS but I’m really enjoying reading all your articles, particularly those relating to meditation.

If I may just contribute a few extra words to your really fine article here.

Yes, you’re absolutely correct when you say that the ego is crucified during meditation practice. But, it must also be pointed out, that, this crucifying process lasts only for the duration of the particular meditation session, which usually lasts twenty minutes or so, therefore, a single meditation session alone is not sufficient in crucifying ego permanently. Thus cessation of carnal ego takes many practice sessions. During our meditations individual carnal mind/ego ceases to exist – it has “died”, if you will. And, post meditation, while the carnal mind becomes active again, dynamically it has become infused of divine purity to some degree — each meditation deepening and purifying further from the previous session.

For beginners starting out on the soul purification journey – at whatever age — the carnal mind is totally unfamiliar with the transcendental nature of utter soul silence. Such acclimatization – the purpose of our life and meditations — is a gradual process, and takes a few sessions for full familiarization to become setup in the brain and nervous system. I also feel that, after nearly forty years of using this method, mantra meditation is the most practical for achieving mental stillness thereby leading to soul silence familiarization and transcendence.

As it’s impossible for lower ego to surrender itself through its own dynamic, the mantra thus becomes the perfect personal proxy in achieving spiritual enlightenment. As intellectual knowledge alone does not alter the state of the soul, rather it’s soul silence which transforms and delivers from carnal mind suffering and not so much accumulations of intellectual fulfilment gained through validating or the meritocracy apportioning of historical “events”. Such can tend to a conditioned or blind faith – an intellectual agreement which does not really provide experiential soul silence bliss nature, a tendency rather to function through a form of biblical “brainwashing” – alas, another form of conditioning dependency which somehow contributes to smothering our soul surfacing love nature — an “intellectual” personality rather a free-flowing in the moment soul.

Even if we’ve never before read the Bible, meditation fulfils the entire instructional message-nature of Scripture, which is, finding Christ-nature or bliss consciousness within through stilling the conscious mind. Thus, being “saved” is to be saved from automatically-recurring spiritual ignorance and the unwitting living of wrong life-styles and non life-serving mind-sets perpetuated through the carnal ego personality.

The secret of knowing unconditional Love thus is engaging transcendental silence gained through regular mental silence meditation. Meditational silence enables kundalini life force rise from the base of the spine to the brain which then transmutes into bliss consciousness, the normal mode of soul-nature living.

In the beginning – by use of the mantra — the process involves repeatedly letting the mind innocently sink into unfamiliar depths of unconditional silence and coming out again to live that gained spiritual progress through the nervous system — this is necessary for deepening and rooting experiential spiritual presence. Gradually, through being regularly submerged in pure mental silence, or pure consciousness, our inner spiritual mechanisms become totally transformed – heart, mind, brain, senses and endocrine system functioning divinely toward optimal spiritual well-being. It’s this repeated going in, transcending, and coming out of inner silence which introduces the brain and nervous system to a new realm of cosmic existence: transcendental divine nature, eternality, our soul’s every-day natural state. It’s this pure silence which transforms into love Presence, thus transforming lower nature into Christ consciousness.

Similarly as a fish cannot survive out of water, the conditioned lower ego cannot survive in transcendental silence. Jesus said: “Where I go, you [ego] cannot come, but I go to prepare a place for you”. These words are describing the process of meditation. Thus, it’s the silence dynamic which crucifies or depotentializes the carnal ego permanently from its controlling influence on our soul’s free-nature status. Such is how direct spiritual awareness is achieved — when the “hell” of spiritual ignorance is overcome and soul freedom becomes a reality state.

It’s the vibrating silence – created by the mantra – which enables the sleeping Lazarus soul awaken consciously unto itself – the eternal Christ within — and which comes forth joyfully as experiential love Light into all areas of our newly-forming, cosmically orientated life. It’s when eternity becomes interwoven consciously as a present-time now reality in consciousness; when expanded cosmic consciousness replaces the old limiting order of carnality-perceiving into unbounded inner Christ awareness; when established Pure silence becomes our revelatory kingdom-base of authentic wisdom and Truth — our source-connection of God-consciousness.

Continued success with the blog and your goals in life.




Joshua Tilghman March 8, 2016 at 7:40 pm


So nice to see you back! I hope you are doing well.

Thanks for the encouragement. The trial has recently resolved itself and I believe I have been successful in laying down the ego through it. As your comment suggests, we have to be careful because we fall back into the ego naturally between meditation cessions as well as moments of profound truth that we receive through silence, even if it isn’t a conscious act of meditation. But I have already grown through the experience and am grateful for the experience.

As to your comment: awesome. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you for taking the time to lay it out in a mini post which no doubt took some time to formulate. Many blessings.


Robert March 8, 2016 at 11:53 pm


A very interesting article on finding blessing through suffering. I also like the simple explanation that is more along the lines of the normal interpretation of scripture. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, and are called according to his purpose.” This does indeed sound comforting, and , in fact, it can actually be exceptionally reassuring to people who have experienced it deeply and repeatedly and so have developed their trust in the promise it makes, and in the God who promises it.

The trials in the desert which include the snakes that bit the Israelites when they disobeyed the instruction not to gather manna on the Sabbath, and when they developed an attitude to distrust the plan God prescribed for them and cried out for fish and meat were two of many struggles between people accepting God’s rulership and authority. The result was always suffering along with a remedy. With the snake bites, the remedy was Moses lifting their sin symbolized by a bronze snake on wooden platform, so that all who looked at it were cured. This foreshadowed the crucifixion Jesus being lifted up in public on the wooden cross, in which Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world, so that his followers would be redeemed from sin and death.

What is common in all these instances of rebellion, is that they are followed by a plan of redemption to come through a Savior who is the unique Son of God, and a call to repentance and belief in him who states he is the way , the truth, and the life. It is to these who follow after the spirit of God that Paul addresses their trials “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, and are called according to his purpose.”

I value the practice of meditation and mindfulness as a useful tool to still the mind and desist from self-centeredness. But the bible does not say that those tools and their effects are THE means of redemption. If I were to begin to depend on them as if they were the means of redemption, then I am certain I would be committing a form of spiritual adultery. I would be seeking by human tools to be selfless, believing what I am doing is sufficient for redemption because it appeals to me and what I want to believe, contrary to what the bible says about salvation and redemption. If I were to persist in it, then I would be recommitting the rebellion of Adam and Eve by ignoring what is clearly and plainly presented in scripture, and missing the unique plan that is prescribed for redemption. And if I became very invested in justifying myself, I would persuade others to follow me.

So yes, I agree and encourage practicing becoming still, mindful, and objective, but in the context of following the normal interpretation of scripture, and certainly not following a school of interpretation that undermines the fundamental truths of the normal interpretation. The Kingdom of God is meant to be within us when we are redeemed, but the bible is clear that redemption does not come from within. It is very clear how redemption comes and through whom. The divine spark of the Greeks that is awakened by intellectual knowledge is not a biblical concept. But this is what the Gnostic interpretation tries to impose on the bible.

So I believe these are things that should be considered before accepting the modern Gnostic reinterpretation of redemption hook, line and sinker.

In all respect of others viewpoints, this is the one I have come to believe is true.


Joshua Tilghman March 9, 2016 at 12:44 am


Thanks for your heartfelt comment which is more of an orthodox position. I can appreciate the thoughts and feelings which you express in your response, as I have also been in the exact same position. However, I will make a few points:

1) The divine spark which was even acknowledged by the Greek mystical schools is not an “intellectual” knowledge. It is an “experiential” knowledge. God can never been known through the intellect, but God can be experienced. The only way to experience God is to move beyond the illusion of the ego.

2) Meditation is not a “tool” that we use to become selfless. It is the very act of selflessness itself, because it is taking the ego, and sacrificing it upon the alter. We are bringing ourselves to God without concepts, ideal, doctrine, dogma, and belief, and allowing God to BE through us. Of course in the beginning, when the mind runs rampant, it seems we are still in control, but when we continual to yield, the ego is sacrificed, and it is a complete selfless act. Think about it: through the act of deep meditation, we seek to give up that which steers us. Only then can God come through.

3) Moses lifting the serpent up as you stated, is the symbol in the ancient spiritual literature of the East as Kundalini. The Orthodox position holds that the serpent is a symbol of Satan. If this line of thought is correct, why would a “serpent” lifted up on a pole (idolatry according to traditional thought) be a foreshadowing of Jesus? The serpent on a pole (the spinal column) is representative of the three and half coils (three and a half so prominent in Revelations) of the latent consciousness and energy within man that has to be risen to the top of the pole (spinal column) in order to heal and receive the New Jerusalem.

4) If redemption comes from an outside source that we are wholly separate of, then we are robots who are transformed and redeemed without the need for true spiritual growth. Yes, we are redeemed through faith as Paul teaches, but also through works as James and Peter would suggest. These works speak to something that WE need to do. So I cannot see how our redemption is wholly dependent upon an outside person. Obviously WE are part of the conversion process, which is namely this: we decide that we are flawed, and in need of redemption. That is our choice. Then WE must act to receive this redemption. But in deep meditation a spiritual transformation within consciousness takes place that we cannot comprehend with intellect, for it is not the ego (you and I who have all these ideas) that becomes active in the salvation process, but a power that is greater than us. However, it is a part of us as well, for it is within.

Respectfully, just some food for thought.


Robert March 9, 2016 at 11:06 am


The law of Moses strictly forbid worship of idols in the form of images of animals, for instance, the Golden Calf. So why did Moses, instructed by God, lift an image of a snake? It was not to worship the snake. It was to acknowledge their sin in the site of Yahveh, a foreshadowing of subsitutionary atonement for those who acknowledge sin, which was to occur in full explanation by the crucification of Jesus, when he became sin for the benefit of his followers. The sacrifice of the Red Heffer, the Passover Lamb, and Abrahams attempt to sacrifice his only son Isaac are all types and shadows of the crucifiction. The ceremony for purifying the temple by sacrificing the Red Heffer ends with the words “It is finished”, the same last words that Jesus spoke on the cross. The Eastern metaphors of kundalini were not a part of Jewish culture. To that culture, they were to be viewed as pagan – not connected to the God of Abraham. So when you impose them on the bible you introduce a foreign religion into the Judeo-Christian message. It may sound appealing, but it is agaisnt the principles of the bible to do so, and for good reason, because it leads to embracing the foreign religion and rejecting the basic principles of Christianity. It is like filling in a hole in the sidewalk with plaster of paris and coloring it to look like concrete, instead of the using the concrete that the sidewalk was meant to be filled with. It seems to fit, and it looks good…for awhile, until the rain washes it off.

It is quite an exaggeration to consider developing an obedient heart to a higher power to having anything to do with being a robot. That obedient heart was what God loved about David, and even though he faltered, when he became aware of his sin, he was able to restore favor with God through repentence. David was not capable in himself of seeing his own sin without God’s help. This does not make David a robot because God made expectations on him to operate within prescibed boundaries. It makes him a son of God.

God gives free will to be disobedient. The disobedient heart is what God hated about Saul and most of the Kings of Israel and Judah. The obedient heart is what Jesus demonstrated without fault, subjecting his mortal body to the expectations of his Father. This does not make Jesus a robot. He is the unique Son of God and a role model, of which others were types an shadows.

The concept of Gnosis is not a Judaic concept. It is a Greek one and may have been adpated from other foreign cultures. It is not as spontaneous nor does it occur as independtly as claimed, that one day you just decide to get still and wallah you have a revelation of the meaning of everything. There is a culture of people and religious theology and literature that you come in contact with that persuades you that the stillness expereince and its effects are the way to life and truth, and supercedes all previous spiritual teaching or revelation. The stillness is beneficial in some ways, and so you become invested in pursueing it with encouragement from others who are also invested that you will become spiritually fulfilled and actuallized, and in the extreme case, you will become like God. This is the orginal deception in the Garden of Eden played out all over again .. that you can attain fulfillment by ignoring warnings and boundaries and setting out on a path that comes with natural and maybe even supernatural manifestations, but not ones that lead to redemption as prescribed for the sons of God.

I’m not convinced of the claims of overcoming ego in connection with the stillness experience. This is a self-reported phenomenon. It may feel like one is overcoming ego. ut if there is resistance to submitting to authority and heed the warnings to stay within the boundaries prescribed by authority, then I question whether the ego overcoming experience is really overcoming self-will.

More food for thought.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: