"...In the beginning there was the Bible. In Numbers 11:31–35 the first written report of the plague of quail poisoning appeared. Almost 5000 yr later a 49-yr-old farmer living on Lesbos in Greece was referred to the hospital on September 22, 1969 for muscle pains in his thighs and legs ( 1 ) of 8 days duration. These symptoms started 6 h after the patient had eaten quail. The amount of quail consumed was not stated. After 2 h the pains subsided and the patient noted a progressive decrease of urinary output to anuric levels (<50 ml/24 h). Physical examination was negative. There had been no excessive muscular activity. No tenderness of muscles or of the renal areas was present. His blood pressure was 140/90. His medical history, both recent and remote, was negative. Complete blood count; red blood cell count, 3.8
It was postulated by Sergent ( 2 ) that the cause of the myoglobinuria was rhabdomyolysis, caused by hemlock (Conium maculatum) ingestion. It was also postulated that the myoglobinuria may have been the consequence of enzyme deficiency of myophosphorylase ( 3 ). In 1978 Papapetropoulos reported a 27-yr-old Greek man with muscle pain, stiffness, and weakness in association with myoglobinuria. Although of only several days duration, the patient progressed to acute renal failure. It was postulated that the quail carried an unknown toxin and that the ingestion of quail flesh from Lesbos transmitted a toxic agent that induces rhabdomyolysis. The patient exhibited muscle weakness for 56 h. On recovery serum lactate acid levels, electromyograms, and motor conduction velocity were normal ( 4 ). A muscle biopsy specimen showed normal striated muscle fibers, and the two principal histochemical types of nicotinamide adenosine nucleotide dehydrogenase-tetrazolium reductase and adenosine triphosphatase (pH 9.4) were well differentiated. Muscle phosphorylase was present. The muscle weakness in quail poisoning has been reported to be similar to the myopathies of known disorders.
They concluded that Coturnism is an acute myoglobinuric syndrome that affects only genetically sensitive individuals after they have eaten quail (Coturnix coturnix). This type of poisoning may be related to two other types of food poisoning—that is, the myoglobinuria caused by fish (Haff disease) and the hemoglobinuria caused by fava beans (favism). As far as is known, only the quail that are native to the Mediterranean basin and that migrate every spring northward to Europe and return every autumn to North and Central Africa cause this syndrome. It had been postulated that the toxins responsible are the seeds of hemlock or hellebore plants...."
It strikes me that there may have been an event and this event was interpreted by the writer of Numbers to be an evidence of divine disapproval...
I believe that this document, the Bible in its various passages reflects the musings on a people who imagined various opinions with regard to their tribal deity.