The First Reading for this Second Sunday after Pentecost bears interesting parallels with the Torah Reading for Shelah (Numbers 13:1-15:41) and even last week’,s portion, Be’ha’alot’cha (Numbers 8:1-13:16). In the lectionary reading from 1 Samuel 8 the Israelites desire a king – like the other nations.
It sounds rather surprising that they would choose a human king rather than God. Despite warnings about the nature of human kings, the Israelites persisted in their demand. “No!”, they insisted, “we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like the other nations…”
Kings are prone to do injustice, draft their citizens into armed forces and conflicts, trample on the weak and simply look at their own interests. Strangely enough, people would prefer this situation.
The P’rashot above also show what we may refer to as the typical human side.
How can we explain the people’s complaint in Numbers 11:5 that “we remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic”? Surely, the cost was slavery, of which they were now saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”
How can these contradictions be explained?
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