Exodus 16

1 They traveled on from Eilim, and the whole community of the people of Isra'el arrived at the Seen Desert, between Eilim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after leaving the land of Egypt.
2 There in the desert the whole community of the people of Isra'el grumbled against Moshe and Aharon.
3 The people of Isra'el said to them, "We wish ADONAI had used his own hand to kill us off in Egypt! There we used to sit around the pots with the meat boiling, and we had as much food as we wanted. But you have taken us out into this desert to let this whole assembly starve to death!"
4 ADONAI said to Moshe, "Here, I will cause bread to rain down from heaven for you. The people are to go out and gather a day's ration every day. By this I will test whether they will observe my Torah or not.
5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they have brought in, it will turn out to be twice as much as they gather on the other days."
6 Moshe and Aharon said to all the people of Isra'el, "This evening, you will realize that it has been ADONAI who brought you out of Egypt;
7 and in the morning, you will see ADONAI's glory. For he has listened to your grumblings against ADONAI - what are we that you should grumble against us?"
8 Moshe added, "What I have said will happen when ADONAI gives you meat to eat this evening and your fill of bread tomorrow morning. ADONAI has listened to your complaints and grumblings against him - what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against ADONAI."
9 Moshe said to Aharon, "Say to the whole community of Isra'el, 'Come close, into the presence of ADONAI, for he has heard your grumblings.'"
10 As Aharon spoke to the whole community of the people of Isra'el, they looked toward the desert; and there before them the glory of ADONAI appeared in the cloud;
11 and ADONAI said to Moshe,
12 "I have heard the grumblings of the people of Isra'el. Say to them: 'At dusk you will be eating meat, and in the morning you will have your fill of bread. Then you will realize that I am ADONAI your God.'"
13 That evening, quails came up and covered the camp; while in the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp.
14 When the dew had evaporated, there on the surface of the desert was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground.
15 When the people of Isra'el saw it, they asked each other, "Man hu? [What is it?]"because they didn't know what it was. Moshe answered them, "It is the bread which ADONAI has given you to eat.
16 Here is what ADONAI has ordered: each man is to gather according to his appetite - each is to take an 'omer [two quarts] per person for everyone in his tent."
17 The people of Isra'el did this. Some gathered more, some less;
18 but when they put it in an 'omer-measure, whoever had gathered much had no excess; and whoever had gathered little had no shortage; nevertheless each person had gathered according to his appetite.
19 Moshe told them, "No one is to leave any of it till morning."
20 But they didn't pay attention to Moshe, and some kept the leftovers until morning. It bred worms and rotted, which made Moshe angry at them.
21 So they gathered it morning after morning, each person according to his appetite; but as the sun grew hot, it melted.
22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two 'omers per person; and all the community leaders came and reported to Moshe.
23 He told them, "This is what ADONAI has said: 'Tomorrow is a holy Shabbat for ADONAI. Bake what you want to bake; boil what you want to boil; and whatever is left over, set aside and keep for the morning.'"
24 They set it aside till morning, as Moshe had ordered; and it didn't rot or have worms.
25 Moshe said, "Today, eat that; because today is a Shabbat for ADONAI - today you won't find it in the field.
26 Gather it six days, but the seventh day is the Shabbat - on that day there won't be any."
27 However, on the seventh day, some of the people went out to gather and found none.
28 ADONAI said to Moshe, "How long will you refuse to observe my mitzvot and teachings?
29 Look, ADONAI has given you the Shabbat. This is why he is providing bread for two days on the sixth day. Each of you, stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day."
30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
31 The people called the food man. It was like coriander seed, white; and it tasted like honey cakes.
32 Moshe said, "Here is what ADONAI has ordered: 'Let two quarts of man be kept through all your generations, so that they will be able to see the bread which I fed you in the desert when I brought you out of Egypt.'"
33 Moshe said to Aharon, "Take a jar, put in it two quarts of man, and set it aside before ADONAI to be kept through all your generations."
34 Just as ADONAI ordered Moshe, Aharon set it aside before the testimony to be kept.
35 The people of Isra'el ate man for forty years, until they came to an inhabited land. They ate man until they arrived at the borders of the land of Kena'an.
36 (An 'omer is one-tenth of an eifah [which is a bushel dry-measure].)

Exodus 16 Commentary

Chapter 16

The Israelites come to the wilderness of Sin. They murmur for food, God promises bread from heaven. (1-12) God sends quails and manna. (13-21) Particulars respecting the manna. (22-31) An omer of manna to be preserved. (32-36)

Verses 1-12 The provisions of Israel, brought from Egypt, were spent by the middle of the second month, and they murmured. It is no new thing for the greatest kindness to be basely represented as the greatest injuries. They so far undervalue their deliverance, that they wished they had died in Egypt; and by the hand of the Lord, that is, by the plagues which cut off the Egyptians. We cannot suppose they had plenty in Egypt, nor could they fear dying for want in the wilderness, while they had flocks and herds: none talk more absurdly than murmurers. When we begin to fret, we ought to consider, that God hears all our murmurings. God promises a speedy and constant supply. He tried whether they would trust him, and rest satisfied with the bread of the day in its day. Thus he tried if they would serve him, and it appeared how ungrateful they were. When God plagued the Egyptians, it was to make them know he was their Lord; when he provided for the Israelites, it was to make them know he was their God.

Verses 13-21 At evening the quails came up, and the people caught with ease as many as they needed. The manna came down in dew. They called it "Manna, Manhu," which means, "What is this?" "It is a portion; it is that which our God has allotted us, and we will take it, and be thankful." It was pleasant food; it was wholesome food. The manna was rained from heaven; it appeared, when the dew was gone, as a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost, like coriander seed, in colour like pearls. The manna fell only six days in the week, and in double quantity on the sixth day; it bred worms and became offensive if kept more than one day, excepting on the sabbath. The people had never seen it before. It could be ground in a mill, or beaten in a mortar, and was then made into cakes and baked. It continued the forty years the Israelites were in the wilderness, wherever they went, and ceased when they arrived in Canaan. All this shows how different it was from any thing found before, or found now. They were to gather the manna every morning. We are hereby taught, 1. To be prudent and diligent in providing food for ourselves and our households; with quietness working, and eating our own bread, not the bread of idleness or deceit. God's bounty leaves room for man's duty; it did so even when manna was rained; they must not eat till they have gathered. 2. To be content with enough. Those that have most, have for themselves but food and raiment; those that have least, generally have these; so that he who gathers much has nothing over, and he who gathers little has no lack. There is not such a disproportion between one and another in the enjoyment of the things of this life, as in the mere possession of them. 3. To depend upon Providence: let them sleep quietly, though they have no bread in their tents, nor in all their camp, trusting that God, with the following day, would bring them in their daily bread. It was surer and safer in God's storehouse than their own, and would come thence sweeter and fresher. See here the folly of hoarding. The manna laid up by some, who thought themselves wiser, and better managers, than their neighbours, and who would provide lest it should fail next day, bred worms, and became good for nothing. That will prove to be most wasted, which is covetously and distrustfully spared. Such riches are corrupted, ( james 5:2 james 5:3 ) . The same wisdom, power, and goodness that brought food daily from above for the Israelites in the wilderness, brings food yearly out of the earth in the constant course of nature, and gives us all things richly to enjoy.

Verses 22-31 Here is mention of a seventh-day sabbath. It was known, not only before the giving of the law upon mount Sinai, but before the bringing of Israel out of Egypt, even from the beginning, ( Genesis 2:3 ) . The setting apart one day in seven for holy work, and, in order to that, for holy rest, was ever since God created man upon the earth, and is the most ancient of the Divine laws. Appointing them to rest on the seventh day, he took care that they should be no losers by it; and none ever will be losers by serving God. On that day they were to fetch in enough for two days, and to make it ready. This directs us to contrive family affairs, so that they may hinder us as little as possible in the work of the sabbath. Works of necessity are to be done on that day; but it is desirable to have as little as may be to do, that we may apply ourselves the more closely to prepare for the life that is to come. When they kept manna against a command, it stank; when they kept it by a command, it was sweet and good; every thing is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. On the seventh day God did not send the manna, therefore they must not expect it, nor go out to gather. This showed that it was produced by miracle.

Verses 32-36 God having provided manna to be his people's food in the wilderness, the remembrance of it was to be preserved. Eaten bread must not be forgotten. God's miracles and mercies are to be had in remembrance. The word of God is the manna by which our souls are nourished, ( Matthew 4:4 ) . The comforts of the Spirit are hidden manna, ( Revelation 2:17 ) . These come from heaven, as the manna did, and are the support and comfort of the Divine life in the soul, while we are in the wilderness of this world. Christ in the word is to be applied to the soul, and the means of grace are to be used. We must every one of us gather for ourselves, and gather in the morning of our days, the morning of our opportunities; which if we let slip, it may be too late to gather. The manna must not be hoarded up, but eaten; those who have received Christ, must by faith live upon him, and not receive his grace in vain. There was manna enough for all, enough for each, and none had too much; so in Christ there is enough, but not more than we need. But those who ate manna, hungered again, died at last, and with many of them God was not well pleased; whereas they that feed on Christ by faith, shall never hunger, and shall die no more, and with them God will be for ever well pleased. Let us seek earnestly for the grace of the Holy Spirit, to turn all our knowledge of the doctrine of Christ crucified, into the spiritual nourishment of our souls by faith and love.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO EXODUS 16

This chapter begins with an account of the journeying of the children of Israel from Elim to the wilderness of Sin, where they murmured for want of bread, Ex 16:1-3, when the Lord told Moses that he would rain bread from heaven for them, which Moses informed them of; and withal, that the Lord took notice of their murmurings, Ex 16:4-12 which promise the Lord fulfilled; and a description of the bread, and the name of it, are given, Ex 16:13-15, and some instructions are delivered out concerning the quantity of it to be gathered, Ex 16:16-18, the time of gathering and keeping it, Ex 16:19-21, the gathering a double quantity on the sixth day for that and the seventh day, with the reason of it, Ex 16:22-30 and a further description of it, Ex 16:31, and an order to preserve an omer of it in a pot, to be kept for generations to come, that it might be seen by them, Ex 16:32-34, and the chapter is concluded with observing, that this bread was ate by the Israelites forty years, even till they came to the borders of the land of Canaan, and the quantity they ate every day is observed what it was, Ex 16:35,36.

Exodus 16 Commentaries