1 And so it was appropriate that these people were punished by such creatures - tormented by swarms of them.
2 But you, O Lord, did not punish your people in this way; instead, you showed them kindness. You sent them quails to eat, a rare, delicious food to satisfy their hunger. 1
3 You did all this so that the idolaters, when they were hungry, would be unable to eat because of the disgusting creatures sent to them. Your people, however, suffered hunger only a short while, and then they ate the finest food.
4 It was necessary for the oppressors to suffer relentless need, while your people saw how their enemies were being tormented.
5 When terrible, fierce snakes attacked your people and were killing them with their poison, you did not remain angry long enough to destroy your people. 2
6 This trouble lasted for only a little while, as a warning. Then you gave them a healing symbol, the bronze snake, to remind them of what your Law requires.
7 If a person looked at that symbol, he was cured of the snakebite - not by what he saw, but by you, the savior of all mankind.
8 By doing this, you also convinced our enemies that you are the one who rescues people from every evil.
9 Our enemies died from the bites of locusts and flies; no way was found to cure them, because they deserved to be punished by such creatures.
10 But even poisonous snakes could not overcome your people, because you had mercy, helped them, and cured them.
11 They were bitten so that they would remember your commands, but they were quickly rescued, in order to keep them from forgetting you completely and depriving themselves of your kindness.
12 No medicine or ointment cured them. They were restored to health by your word, O Lord, the word which heals all humanity.
13 You have power over life and death; you can bring a person to the brink of death and back again.
14 A wicked person may kill someone, but cannot bring the dead person back to life or rescue a soul imprisoned in the world of the dead.
15 No one can possibly escape from you.
16 Look at those ungodly people: they refused to recognize you as God, so you punished them with your great power. They were overtaken by terrible storms of rain and hail and were completely destroyed by fire.
17 The most amazing thing was that the fire burned all the more fiercely in the water, which usually puts fire out. All the forces of nature fight to defend those who are righteous.
18 At one point the flames died down, so that they wouldn't destroy the creatures sent to punish the ungodly. Those people had to learn that they were being overtaken by your judgment.
19 But at another point, when surrounded by water, the flames burned more fiercely than fire had ever burned before, and so destroyed the crops on the land where those unrighteous people lived.
20 But this disaster did not strike your people. Instead, you gave them the food of angels. From heaven you sent down bread that was ready to eat, and they did not have to prepare it. The food you gave delighted everyone, no matter what his taste. 3
21 All this showed how lovingly you care for your children. That food satisfied the desire of everyone who ate it; it was changed to suit each person's taste.
22 It was food that under normal circumstances would vanish away like snow or ice, but now it did not melt even in the fire. This was meant to teach your people that the same fire that was destroying their enemies' crops during the heavy downpour of rain and hail
23 held back its power, so that your own righteous people might have food.
24 You created the universe; it is at your command. All creation uses its power to punish unrighteous people, but it becomes mild and kind to those who put their trust in you.
25 Creation assumed all kinds of forms to show how you provide generously for all who pray to you.
26 This happened so that the people whom you loved, O Lord, might learn that they are not fed by what they can grow. It is your word that maintains those who put their trust in you.
27 The food that was not destroyed by the fire melted when the first ray of sunlight warmed it.
28 This was to teach us that we must get up before daybreak to give you thanks, and pray as the sun comes up.
29 But an ungrateful person's hope will melt away like frost, and drain away like water that is not being used.