Exodus 16

Manna and Quail

1 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt.
2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.
5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”
6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt,
7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?”
8 Moses also said, “You will know that it was the LORD when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling 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 grumbling.’ ”
10 While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.
11 The LORD said to Moses,
12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’ ”
13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.
14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.
15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.
16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer[a] for each person you have in your tent.’ ”
17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little.
18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.
19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”
20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.
21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away.
22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers[b] for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses.
23 He said to them, “This is what the LORD commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’ ”
24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it.
25 “Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today.
26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”
27 Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none.
28 Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you[c] refuse to keep my commands and my instructions?
29 Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.”
30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
31 The people of Israel called the bread manna.[d] It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.
32 Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.’ ”
33 So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD to be kept for the generations to come.”
34 As the LORD commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preserved.
35 The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.
36 (An omer is one-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.

Cross References 42

  • 1. Exodus 17:1; Numbers 33:11,12
  • 2. S Exodus 6:6; Exodus 12:1-2
  • 3. S Exodus 14:11; Exodus 15:24; 1 Corinthians 10:10
  • 4. Exodus 17:3; Numbers 14:2; Numbers 20:3
  • 5. Numbers 11:4,34; Deuteronomy 12:20; Psalms 78:18; Psalms 106:14; Jeremiah 44:17
  • 6. S Genesis 47:15; Deuteronomy 8:3
  • 7. ver 14-15; Deuteronomy 8:3; Nehemiah 9:15; Psalms 78:24; Psalms 105:40; S John 6:31*
  • 8. S Genesis 22:1
  • 9. ver 22; Leviticus 25:21
  • 10. S Exodus 6:6
  • 11. ver 10; Exodus 24:16; Exodus 29:43; Exodus 33:18,22; Exodus 40:34; Leviticus 9:6; Numbers 16:19,42; Deuteronomy 5:24; 1 Kings 8:11; Psalms 63:2; Isaiah 6:3; Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 40:5; Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 60:1; Isaiah 66:18; Ezekiel 1:28; Ezekiel 10:4; Ezekiel 43:5; Habakkuk 2:14; Haggai 2:7; John 11:40
  • 12. ver 12; Numbers 11:1,18; Numbers 14:2,27,28; Numbers 17:5
  • 13. Numbers 16:11
  • 14. ver 7
  • 15. Numbers 23:21; Deuteronomy 33:5; Judges 8:23; 1 Samuel 8:7; 1 Samuel 12:12; S Matthew 10:40; Romans 13:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:8
  • 16. S ver 7; Numbers 16:19; John 11:4
  • 17. Exodus 13:21; Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Chronicles 7:1; Ezekiel 10:4
  • 18. S ver 7
  • 19. S Exodus 6:2; S Exodus 20:2
  • 20. Numbers 11:31; Psalms 78:27-28; Psalms 105:40; Psalms 106:15
  • 21. Numbers 11:9
  • 22. ver 31; Numbers 11:7-9; Deuteronomy 8:3,16; Psalms 105:40
  • 23. Deuteronomy 8:16
  • 24. S ver 4; Nehemiah 9:20; S John 6:31
  • 25. ver 32,36
  • 26. 2 Corinthians 8:15*
  • 27. ver 23; Exodus 12:10; Exodus 23:18
  • 28. ver 24
  • 29. Exodus 32:19
  • 30. S ver 5
  • 31. Exodus 34:31
  • 32. S Genesis 2:3; S Exodus 20:8; Exodus 23:12; Leviticus 23:3; Deuteronomy 5:13-14
  • 33. ver 23; Exodus 20:9-10
  • 34. Joshua 9:14; 2 Kings 17:14; Psalms 78:10; Psalms 106:13; Psalms 107:11; Psalms 119:1; Jeremiah 32:23
  • 35. S ver 14; Numbers 11:7-9
  • 36. Hebrews 9:4; Revelation 2:17
  • 37. Ex 25:16,21,22; Exodus 27:21; Exodus 31:18; Exodus 40:20; Leviticus 16:13; Numbers 1:50; Numbers 7:89; Numbers 10:11; Numbers 17:4,10; Deuteronomy 10:2; 1 Kings 8:9; 2 Chronicles 5:10
  • 38. John 6:31,49
  • 39. Numbers 14:33; Numbers 33:38; Deuteronomy 1:3; Deuteronomy 2:7; Deuteronomy 8:2-4; Joshua 5:6; Judges 3:11; Nehemiah 9:21; Psalms 95:10; Amos 5:25
  • 40. Joshua 5:12
  • 41. S ver 16
  • 42. Leviticus 5:11; Leviticus 6:20; Numbers 5:15; Numbers 15:4; Numbers 28:5

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. That is, possibly about 3 pounds or about 1.4 kilograms; also in verses 18, 32, 33 and 36
  • [b]. That is, possibly about 6 pounds or about 2.8 kilograms
  • [c]. The Hebrew is plural.
  • [d]. "Manna" sounds like the Hebrew for "What is it?" (see verse 15).

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