|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
16:1-12 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.
Verse 2. - The whole congregation... murmured, It has been observed above, that only the poorer sort could have been as yet in any peril of actual starvation; but it may well have been that the rest, once launched into the wilderness, and becoming practically acquainted with its unproductiveness, foresaw that ultimately starvation must come upon them too, when all the cattle were eaten up, or had died through insufficient nourishment Nothing is more clear than that, without the miracle of the manna, it would have been impossible for a population of two millions to have supported themselves for forty years, or even for two years, in such a region as the Sinaitic peninsula, even though it had been in ancient times three or four times as productive as at present. The cattle brought out of Egypt must have rapidly diminished (Exodus 17:3); and though the Israelites had brought with them also great wealth in the precious metals, yet it must have been some time before they could establish commercial relations with the neighbouring nations so as to obtain such supplies as they needed. Thus we can well understand that at the expiration of a month the people generally should have recognized that their situation was one of great danger, and should have vented their discontent upon their leaders.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured,.... For want of bread; for the Targum of Jonathan says, that day the dough ceased they brought of Egypt, on which, and the unleavened cakes they had lived thirty days; and for a longer space of time it was not sufficient, as Josephus (g) and other Jewish writers (h) observe; and now it was all spent, and they were in the utmost distress for bread, and fall a murmuring as they were used to do, when in any distress, even the whole congregation of them, at least the far greater part; some few might be excepted, as Caleb and Joshua, and some others: and they
murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness; in the wilderness of Sin, where they were, and where no corn was to be had to make bread of; and their murmuring was not only against Moses, as before when they wanted water, but against Aaron also, who were jointly concerned in bringing them out of Egypt. It is a common case, when things do not go so well as to be wished for in church or state, for people to murmur against their governors, ecclesiastic or civil, and lay all the blame to them.
(g) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 15. sect. 1.((h) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 5. p. 17.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. the whole congregation … murmured against Moses and Aaron—Modern travellers through the desert of Sinai are accustomed to take as much as is sufficient for the sustenance of men and beasts during forty days. The Israelites having been rather more than a month on their journey, their store of corn or other provisions was altogether or nearly exhausted; and there being no prospect of procuring any means of subsistence in the desert, except some wild olives and wild honey (De 32:13), loud complaints were made against the leaders.
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