|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:4-9 Man, having forsaken his proper rest, feels uneasy and wretched, though prosperous. They were weary of the provision God had made for them, although wholesome food and nourishing. It cost no money or care, and the labour of gathering it was very little indeed; yet they talked of Egypt's cheapness, and the fish they ate there freely; as if that cost them nothing, when they paid dearly for it with hard service! While they lived on manna, they seemed exempt from the curse sin has brought on man, that in the sweat of his face he should eat bread; yet they speak of it with scorn. Peevish, discontented minds will find fault with that which has no fault in it, but that it is too good for them. Those who might be happy, often make themselves miserable by discontent. They could not be satisfied unless they had flesh to eat. It is evidence of the dominion of the carnal mind, when we want to have the delights and satisfaction of sense. We should not indulge in any desire which we cannot in faith turn into prayer, as we cannot when we ask meat for our lust. What is lawful of itself becomes evil, when God does not allot it to us, yet we desire it.
Verse 7. - The manna was as coriander seed. On the name and the nature of the manna see Exodus 16:31. It is commonly supposed that the brief description here inserted was intended to show the unreasonableness of the popular complaints. There is no trace whatever of any such purpose. So far as the description conveys fresh information, it was simply suggested by the occurrence of the word "manna," according to the artless style of the narrative. If any moral purpose must be assigned to this digression, it would rather be to suggest that the people had some real temptation to complain. It is often forgotten that, although the manna was supernatural, at least as to the amount and regularity of its supply, yet as an article of food it contained no supernatural elements. If we had to live upon nothing but cakes flavored with honey or with olive oil, it is certain that we should soon find them pall upon our appetite. To the eye of the Psalmist the manna appeared as angels' food (Psalm 78:25); but then the Psalmist had not lived on manna every day for a year. We have to remember, in this as in many other cases, that the Israelites would not be "our ensamples" (τύποι ἡμῶν, 1 Corinthians 10:6) if they had not succumbed to real temptations. As the colour of bdellium. See on Genesis 2:12. As no one knows anything at all about bdellium, this adds nothing to our knowledge of the manna. The Septuagint has here εῖδος κρυστάλλου, "the appearance of ice," or perhaps "of hoar-frost." As it translates bdellium in Genesis 2:12 by ἄνθραξ (carbuncle), it is probable that the comparison to ice here is due to some tradition about the manna. Taking this passage in connection with Exodus 16:31, we may reasonably conjecture that it was of an opalescent white, the same colour probably which is mentioned in connection with manna in Revelation 2:17.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the manna was as coriander seed,.... Not in colour, for that is black or darkish, whereas the manna was white, as is generally observed; of which See Gill on Exodus 16:31; however it might be like the coriander, because of its form and figure, being round, and because of its quantity, being small, Exodus 16:14; Some think the mustard seed is meant, as Aben Ezra observes, which is the least of all seeds; it seems that the manna fell in small round grains, like to such seed. This, with what follows, is observed, to expose the folly and ingratitude of the Israelites, that having such bread from heaven, angels food, that they should slight it, and hanker after other food:
and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium; not an aromatic gum, which Pliny (k) speaks of, which is clear as wax, for that is black or blackish, and not white as the manna; besides, this should be read, not "bdellium", but "bdeloah", and is a precious stone, and, according to Bochart, the pearl; so Ben Melech observes, that it is a precious stone; some say the diamond, and others a round white stone, which they bore and join stones together, and make a chain of, he doubtless means a pearl necklace; though Jarchi says it is the crystal, and so the Jewish writers commonly; See Gill on Genesis 2:12; hence it appears the manna was very pleasant to look at, being of a round form, and of a pearl or crystal colour.
(k) Nat. Hist. l. 12. c. 9.
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