|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:31-35 God performed his promise to the people, in giving them flesh. How much more diligent men are in collecting the meat that perishes, than in labouring for meat which endures to everlasting life! We are quick-sighted in the affairs of time; but stupidity blinds us as to the concerns of eternity. To pursue worldly advantages, we need no arguments; but when we are to secure the true riches, then we are all forgetfulness. Those who are under the power of a carnal mind, will have their lusts fulfilled, though it be to the certain damage and ruin of their precious souls. They paid dearly for their feasts. God often grants the desires of sinners in wrath, while he denies the desires of his own people in love. What we unduly desire, if we obtain it, we have reason to fear, will be some way or other a grief and cross to us. And what multitudes there are in all places, who shorten their lives by excess of one kind or other! Let us seek for those pleasures which satisfy, but never surfeit; and which will endure for evermore.
Verse 32. - And the people stood up... next day. A statement which shows us how greedy the people were, and how inordinately eager to supply themselves with an abundance of animal food. They were so afraid of losing any of the birds that they stayed up all night in order to collect them; probably they only ceased gathering and began to cat when the available supply was spent. Ten homers. It is difficult to calculate the capacity of the homer, especially as it may have varied from age to age. If it contained ten ephahs, as seems to be implied in Ezekiel 45:11, and if the estimate of the Rabbinists (which is less than that of Josephus) be correct that the ephah held nearly four and a half gallons of liquid measure, then half a million of men must have collected more quails apiece than would have filled a 450 gallon tub. No doubt the total number was something enormous, and far above anything that could have been supplied by natural agencies. The gift of quails, like that of manna, was one of the gifts of nature proper to that region Divinely multiplied and extended, so as to show forth in the most striking way the boundless power and beneficence of God. They spread them all abroad. In order to dry them in the sun, as the Egyptians used to do with fish (Herod., 2:77), and as the South Americans do with beef. Flesh thus cured does not need salt, which the Israelites would not have in sufficient quantities.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the people stood up all that day,.... The day on which they fell in the morning:
and all that night; the night following:
and all the next day; after that, even the space of thirty six hours:
and they gathered the quails; not took them flying, as the Jewish writers suggest, before observed, but from the earth where they fell, in order to lay them up as a provision for time to come; or otherwise, had they taken them only for present use, they would not have been so long in gathering them; but they seemed greedy of them, and therefore took up all they could, or knew what to do with:
he that gathered least gathered ten homers; or so many ass loads, as some interpret it; the words for an ass and an homer being near the same: an homer in measure is the same with the "cor", and held ten ephahs; and, according to Bishop Cumberland (y), contained seventy five wine gallons, seven pints, and somewhat more, which must hold a vast quantity of quails; though not the measure, but the number of fowls, is commonly given. Some render the word "heaps", as in Exodus 8:14; and is supposed better to agree with locusts; but then it will be difficult to assign a reason why the number of them should be given, since heaps might be greater or lesser:
and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp; according to some, they were taken alive, and put into cages, which were hung round the camp, so that all places were full of them, in which they were kept, and used as they wanted them; but they seem rather, be they what they will, to be dead, and to be spread about to be dried in the sun, being salted; and so the Vulgate Latin version renders the word, "and they dried them" (z); and agrees both with quails, which, according to some writers (a), used to be salted for food for time to come; and with locusts, on which the inhabitants of some parts of Ethiopia always lived, as Pliny (b) says, being hardened in smoke, and with salt, and was their food for the year round. And this custom was used in Arabia; for Leo Africanus (c) relates, that the people of Arabia Deserta, and of Lybia, reckon the coming of the locusts an happy omen; for either boiled, or dried with the sun, they beat them into meal (or powder) and eat them: and of the Nasamones, a people in Africa, it is said (d), that they hunt locusts, and dry them in the sun, and grind them, and then, sprinkling milk upon them, sup them up.
(y) Of Scripture Weights, &c. p. 86. (z) So the word is used in Misn. Sabbat, c. 22. sect. 4. for spreading things in the sun to dry them. (a) Athenaeus, Hipparchus, & Hesychius apud Bochart, Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 1. c. 15. Colossians 107. (b) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 30. (c) Descriptio Africae, l. 9. p. 769. (d) Herodot. Melpomene, sive, l. 4. c. 172.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
32. people stood up—rose up in eager haste—some at one time, others at another; some, perhaps through avidity, both day and night.
ten homers—ten asses' loads; or, "homers" may be used indefinitely (as in Ex 8:14; Jud 15:16); and "ten" for many: so that the phrase "ten homers" is equivalent to "great heaps." The collectors were probably one or two from each family; and, being distrustful of God's goodness, they gathered not for immediate consumption only, but for future use. In eastern and southern seas, innumerable quails are often seen, which, when weary, fall down, covering every spot on the deck and rigging of vessels; and in Egypt they come in such myriads that the people knock them down with sticks.
spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp—salted and dried them for future use, by the simple process to which they had been accustomed in Egypt.
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