And when the children of Israel saw it
As they could not but observe it, it being spread over the face of the wilderness; and besides, as they were told, that in the morning they should have bread to the full, they were up early to look after it: they said one to another, it [is] manna;
not such as is known by that name now, which is only used in medicine; nor anything that was then known by any such name; but so they called it, because it was, as Jarchi says, a preparation of food, or food ready prepared for them, from (hnm) , "manah", which signifies to appoint, prepare, and distribute, see ( Daniel 1:5 Daniel 1:10 ) , so Christ is appointed of God, and prepared in his purposes and decrees, and delivered out, by his grace as proper food for his people, who have everyone their portion in due season: for Kimchi and Ben Melech give the sense of the word, a gift and portion from God; and such is Christ, the gift of his grace, and an unspeakable one. Some think these words were spoken by the Israelites on first sight of the manna, by way of question, "Man hu, what is it?" and so Josephus F15 says it signifies in their language; but it does not appear that the word is so used in the Hebrew tongue, though it might in the Syriac or Chaldee, which was more in use in the times of Josephus. But it can hardly be thought that the Israelites could speak in either of these dialects at this time; it is much more probable what others say, that it so signifies in the Egyptian tongue; and it is not at all to be wondered at that Israel, just come out of Egypt, should use an Egyptian word: and this best agrees with the reason that follows, "for they wist not what it was"; which contradicts our version; for if they knew not what it was, how came they to call it manna? but taking the above words as an interrogation, asking one another what it was, those come in very pertinently, and assign a reason of the question, because they were ignorant of it, having never seen any such thing before; and this sense is confirmed by what Moses says in the next clause, telling them what it was: and thus Christ is unknown to his own people, until he is revealed unto them; not by flesh and blood, by carnal reason or carnal men, but by the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; and he remains always unknown to natural men, though ever so wise and prudent: and Moses said unto them, this is the bread which the Lord hath given
you to eat;
which he had promised them the day before, and which he had now rained in plenty about them; and which they had as a free gift of his, without any merit and desert of theirs, and without their labour, diligence, and industry, and which they had now power from him to eat of freely and plentifully.
F15 Antiqu. l. 3. c. 1. sect. 6.