Exodus 16

Manna and Quail Provided

1 The entire Israelite community departed from Elim and came to the Wilderness of Sin,[a] which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left the land of Egypt.
2 The entire Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.
3 The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger!"
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, "I am going to rain bread from heaven[b] for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow My instructions.
5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days."[c]
6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites: "This evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
7 in the morning you will see the Lord's glory because He has heard your complaints about Him. For who are we that you complain about us?"
8 Moses continued, "The Lord will give you meat to eat this evening and abundant bread in the morning, for He has heard the complaints that you are raising against Him. Who are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord."
9 Then Moses told Aaron, "Say to the entire Israelite community, 'Come before the Lord, for He has heard your complaints.' "
10 As Aaron was speaking to the entire Israelite community, they turned toward the wilderness, and there, in a cloud, the Lord's glory appeared.[d]
11 The Lord spoke to Moses,
12 "I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them: At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will eat bread until you are full. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God."
13 So at evening quail came and covered the camp. In the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp.
14 When the layer of dew evaporated, there on the desert surface were fine flakes, as fine as frost on the ground.
15 When the Israelites saw it, they asked one another, "What is it?" because they didn't know what it was. Moses told them, "It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.
16 This is what the Lord has commanded: 'Gather as much of it as each person needs to eat. You may take two quarts[e] per individual, according to the number of people each of you has in his tent.' "
17 So the Israelites did this. Some gathered a lot, some a little.
18 When they measured it by quarts,[f] the person who gathered a lot had no surplus, and the person who gathered a little had no shortage. Each gathered as much as he needed to eat.
19 Moses said to them, "No one is to let any of it remain until morning."
20 But they didn't listen to Moses; some people left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and smelled. Therefore Moses was angry with them.
21 They gathered it every morning. Each gathered as much as he needed to eat, but when the sun grew hot, it melted.
22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, four quarts[g] apiece, and all the leaders of the community came and reported [this] to Moses.
23 He told them, "This is what the Lord has said: 'Tomorrow is a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you want to bake, and boil what you want to boil, and everything left over set aside to be kept until morning.' "
24 So they set it aside until morning as Moses commanded, and it didn't smell or have any maggots in it.
25 "Eat it today," Moses said, "because today is a Sabbath to the Lord. Today you won't find any in the field.
26 For six days you may gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none."
27 Yet on the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they did not find any.
28 Then the Lord said to Moses, "How long will you[h] refuse to keep My commands and instructions?
29 Understand that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day He will give you two days' worth of bread. 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 house of Israel named the substance manna.[i] It resembled coriander seed, was white, and tasted like wafers [made] with honey.
32 Moses said, "This is what the Lord has commanded: 'Two quarts[j] of it are to be preserved throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread I fed you in the wilderness when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.' "
33 Moses told Aaron, "Take a container and put two quarts[k] of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be preserved throughout your generations."
34 As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron placed it before the testimony to be preserved.
35 The Israelites ate manna for 40 years, until they came to an inhabited land. They ate manna until they reached the border of the land of Canaan.[l]
36 (Two quarts are[m] a tenth of an ephah.)

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.

Footnotes 13

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