Then the whole community of Israel set out from Elim and journeyed into the wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Mount Sinai. They arrived there on the fifteenth day of the second month, one month after leaving the land of Egypt.
There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron.
“If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.
On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual.”
So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “By evening you will realize it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
In the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your complaints, which are against him, not against us. What have we done that you should complain about us?”
Then Moses added, “The LORD will give you meat to eat in the evening and bread to satisfy you in the morning, for he has heard all your complaints against him. What have we done? Yes, your complaints are against the LORD, not against us.”
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Announce this to the entire community of Israel: ‘Present yourselves before the LORD, for he has heard your complaining.’”
And as Aaron spoke to the whole community of Israel, they looked out toward the wilderness. There they could see the awesome glory of the LORD in the cloud.
Then the LORD said to Moses,
“I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’”
That evening vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew.
When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground.
The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was. And Moses told them, “It is the food the LORD has given you to eat.
These are the LORD ’s instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts for each person in your tent.”
So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little.
But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed.
Then Moses told them, “Do not keep any of it until morning.”
But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them.
After this the people gathered the food morning by morning, each family according to its need. And as the sun became hot, the flakes they had not picked up melted and disappeared.
On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much as usual—four quarts for each person instead of two. Then all the leaders of the community came and asked Moses for an explanation.
He told them, “This is what the LORD commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the LORD . So bake or boil as much as you want today, and set aside what is left for tomorrow.”
So they put some aside until morning, just as Moses had commanded. And in the morning the leftover food was wholesome and good, without maggots or odor.
Moses said, “Eat this food today, for today is a Sabbath day dedicated to the LORD . There will be no food on the ground today.
You may gather the food for six days, but the seventh day is the Sabbath. There will be no food on the ground that day.”
Some of the people went out anyway on the seventh day, but they found no food.
The LORD asked Moses, “How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions?
They must realize that the Sabbath is the LORD ’s gift to you. That is why he gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must each stay in your place. Do not go out to pick up food on the seventh day.”
So the people did not gather any food on the seventh day.
The Israelites called the food manna. It was white like coriander seed, and it tasted like honey wafers.
Then Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: Fill a two-quart container with manna to preserve it for your descendants. Then later generations will be able to see the food I gave you in the wilderness when I set you free from Egypt.”
Moses said to Aaron, “Get a jar and fill it with two quarts of manna. Then put it in a sacred place before the LORD to preserve it for all future generations.”
Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded Moses. He eventually placed it in the Ark of the Covenant—in front of the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant.
So the people of Israel ate manna for forty years until they arrived at the land where they would settle. They ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.
The container used to measure the manna was an omer, which was one-tenth of an ephah; it held about two quarts.