Exodus chapter 16.


Events in the Wilderness of Sin.

The murmuring about the food. — V.1. And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Suez, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. V.2. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. Their dissatisfied complaint was directed against both leaders, and so against the divine act of bringing them out of Egypt, that is, against Jehovah Himself. V.3. And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, in the last great plague which cut off the first-born of the Egyptians, when we sat by the flesh-pots, and when we did eat bread to the full, when they, in spite of all their other afflictions, at least had their food in sufficient quantities; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger, which was an unjust accusation bordering upon insolence and, moreover, with an amount of falsehood, for they still had at least some of their cattle with them, and the congregation was by no means on the edge of starvation. V.4. Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, a certain amount day after day, that I may prove them whether they will walk in My law or no. The Lord intended to test their faith and obedience in connection with this miraculous gift of bread. V.5. And it shall come to pass that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in, they should measure the portion very carefully and set it aside; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. Cp. v.22. V.6. And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt, they would be given further unmistakable evidence that it was the Lord who had brought about their deliverance; v.7. and in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord, they would be given definite proof of His almighty power and majesty, of His glorious presence; for that He, God, heareth your murmurings against the Lord, Jehovah, the Son of God, who was the real leader of the people in its desert journey, 1 Cor. 10, 4. And what are we, that ye murmur against us? The persons of Moses and Aaron counted for nothing; it was as the ambassadors of Jehovah that they were here concerned; the people should realize that their complaint was directed against God. V.8. And Moses said, This shall be when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against Him. And what are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord. Thus the people were reproved for their sinful murmuring.

The Lord sends quails and manna. — V.9. And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the Lord; for He hath heard your murmurings. Aaron, as the spokesman of Moses, was to make this announcement, giving the people the assurance that Jehovah had heard, and was ready to grant, the prayer included in their murmuring, in spite of the fact that it indicated a sinful weakness on their part. V.10. And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. This appearance confirmed the reproof and the promise given by the mouth of the Lord’s ambassadors, and incidentally indicated to them that God was able to manifest Himself in their midst even in the desert wastes which now lay before them. V.11. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, v.12. I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel. Speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, between the evenings, at twilight, before nightfall, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord, your God. It would be another unmistakable proof of His almighty power. V.13. And it came to pass that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp; they arose on the horizon in great masses, like a heavy cloud, their usual number being much increased by a miracle of the Lord. And in the morning the dew lay round about the host, all around the camp. V.14. And when the dew that lay was gone up, that is, the heavy fog that accompanied the precipitation, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoarfrost on the ground, like flaky kernels, Num. 11, 7. V.15. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, What is this? For they wist (knew) not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat, the miraculous, heavenly bread, of which he had spoken the evening before. V.16. This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, about two and one-half quarts per person, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents; that was the average amount per soul, whether children or adults. V.17. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less, as every man’s good fortune or his energy directed. V.18. And when they did mete it with an omer, the measure which the Lord had given as the standard, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. By God’s miraculous arrangement the amounts gathered were just sufficient for each family and for the entire people. V.19. And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning, in an attempt to hoard the food. V.20. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses, they again became guilty of stubborn disobedience; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms and stank; the tiny maggots that developed caused a rapid decay. And Moses was wroth with them, on account of their stubbornness. V.21. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating; and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. Thus the Lord provided for His people in their need, mercifully overlooking their weakness, even as He does to this day, as His children experience time and again.

The Sabbath rest. — V.22. And it came to pass that on the sixth day of the week they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man, about five quarts per person; and all the rulers of the congregation, the princes, or leaders, of the various tribes, came. and told Moses. The strangeness of the happening caused them to wonder. V.23. And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said (v.5.), To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord, which up to that time had evidently not been observed. Bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; they were to prepare and eat their meals as usual; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning, for use on the Sabbath-day. V.24. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade; and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein, which showed that the entire matter was in the hands of God’s providence. V.25. And Moses said, Eat that today; for today is a Sabbath unto the Lord; today ye shall not find it in the field, another proof that it was not the natural manna (which in warm weather oozes out of the branches of the tarfa-tree) with which the children of Israel were dealing, but a gift from heaven, sent at the direction of God. V.26. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. V.27. And it came to pass that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, in the same obstinate willfulness which characterized the people throughout, and they found none. V.28. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws? The people were giving a poor account of their faith in this trial of their obedience and heaping one sin upon the other. V.29. See, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore He giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days. That was the explanation repeated, which included the reproof. Abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. That was the plain command, which permitted no evasion. V.30. So the people rested on the seventh day; from this time the observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath dates. V.31. And the house of Israel called the name thereof, of the miraculous bread, manna; and it was like coriander seed, white, small, round kernels of dull white or yellowish green color; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Cp. Num. 11, 7. 8. It could be ground in a hand-mill, crushed in a mortar, cooked by baking or boiling, made into cakes or bread, and tasted like baked food. It is referred to Ps. 78, 24; 105, 40; John 6, 31–41.

Manna saved for a memorial. — V.32. And Moses said, This is the thing which the Lord commandeth, Fill an omer of it, a measure containing just that amount, to be kept for your generations, for all future times, that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. V.33. And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord to be kept for your generations, for all future descendants. V.34. As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the testimony, to be kept. The historian here anticipates an event of the future, for it was some time later that the Ark of the Covenant was made at God’s command, the receptacle of the tables of the testimony and also of the pot of manna, chap. 25, 16.21; Heb. 9, 4. V.35. And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan. V.36. Now, an omer is the tenth part of an ephah, as the author adds by way of explanation, an ephah at that time measuring almost three and one-fourth pecks. This closes the account concerning the manna for the present. The entire story reminds us of the gracious providence of God, which takes care of all our needs and bids us not to worry about the morrow, Matt. 6, 34. If we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all the things which we need for this life will be added unto us.