Exodus 16
Benson Commentary
And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.
Exodus 16:1. Came into the wilderness of Sin — Not immediately, for there is another stage of their journey by the Red sea, mentioned Numbers 33:10, (in which chapter, it appears, Moses designedly set down all their stations,) but omitted here, because nothing remarkable happened in it.

This was a great wilderness between the Red sea and mount Sinai, different and far distant from that Zin mentioned Numbers 20:1, which was near the land of Edom.

And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
Exodus 16:2. The whole congregation murmured — For want of bread, having consumed all the dough or flour which they had brought out of Egypt. A month’s provision, it seems, the host of Israel took with them out of Egypt, when they came thence on the 15th day of the first month, which by the 15th of the second month was all spent. Against Moses and Aaron — God’s vicegerents among them. How weak and perverse is human nature! They had just seen the bitter waters instantaneously made sweet to assuage their thirst, and a little while before had been miraculously delivered at the Red sea, when there seemed to be no possible way for their escape; and yet so far were they from learning to trust in that divine, almighty Providence, that had so wonderfully and so evidently wrought for them, that on the very first difficulty and distress they break out into the most desponding murmurings!

And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
Exodus 16:3. Would to God we had died — They so undervalue their deliverance, that they wish they had died in Egypt; nay, and died by the hand of the Lord too. That is, by some of the plagues which cut off the Egyptians; as if it were not the hand of the Lord, but of Moses only, that brought them into this wilderness! It is common for people to say of that pain or sickness of which they see not the second causes, It is what pleaseth God, as if that were not so likewise which comes by the hand of man, or some visible accident. We cannot suppose they had any great plenty in Egypt, how largely soever they now talk of the flesh-pots, nor could they fear dying for want in the wilderness while they had their flocks and herds with them; but discontent magnifies what is past, and vilifies what is present, without regard to truth or reason. None talk more absurdly than murmurers.

Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
Exodus 16:4. Man being made out of the earth, his Maker has wisely ordered him food out of the earth, <19A414>Psalm 104:14. But the people of Israel typifying the church of the firstborn that are written in heaven, receiving their charters, laws, and commissions from heaven; from heaven also they received their food. See what God designed in making this provision for them; that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law or no — Whether they would trust and serve him, and be ever faithful to so good a master.

And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.
Exodus 16:5-6. They shall prepare — Lay up, grind, bake, or boil. The Lord brought you out of Egypt — And not we, as you suggest, by our own counsel.

And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt:
And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?
Exodus 16:7-9. Ye shall see the glory of the Lord — Either this glorious work of God in giving you bread from heaven, or rather the glorious appearance of God in the cloud, as is mentioned in Exodus 16:10. Come near before the Lord — Before the cloudy pillar, where God was especially present.

And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.
And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings.
And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.
Exodus 16:12. Ye shall know that I am the Lord your God — This gave proof of his power as the Lord, and his particular favour to them as their God; when God plagued the Egyptians, it was to make them know that he is the Lord; when he provided for the Israelites, it was to make them know that he was their God.

And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.
Exodus 16:13. The quails came up — So tame that they might be taken up, as many as they pleased. Although Ludolph has offered several arguments in his Ethiop. Hist. (l. 1. c. 13) to prove that the Hebrew word שׂלו, selav, here used, ought to be rendered locusts; it is certain, from Psalm 78:27, that birds of some kind are meant: He rained flesh upon them as dust, and feathered fowl as the sand of the sea. Buxtorf renders the word coturnices, quails. And Parkhurst, deriving the word fromשׂלה, to be tranquil, or to rest, considers it as signifying a kind of bird that lived remarkably in ease and plenty among the corn. And, it seems, among the Egyptians a quail was an emblem of ease and plenty. It was also esteemed a dainty, and would probably rather be sent at this time than the locusts, which, though used for food, could hardly be termed flesh. According to Josephus, “there are more of this kind of birds about the Arabian gulf than any others. And flying over the sea,” he says, “and being weary, and coming nearer the ground than other birds, they took them with their hands, as food prepared for them of God.” But Josephus’s representation of the matter by no means comes up to the view of it given by Moses, (Numbers 11:31,) who says, that a wind went forth from the Lord and brought them from the sea, and let them fall round about the camp, a day’s journey on each side, and that they lay “two cubits high on the face of the earth.”

In the morning the dew lay — Hebrews שׁכבת השׂלshick-bath hattal, a layer, or bed of dew. With this, it appears, the manna was covered: to which the expression, hidden manna, (Revelation 2:17,) seems to allude.

And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
Exodus 16:14. When the dew was gone up — To wit, into the air; or was vanished, there lay a small round thing — According to Numbers 11:9, there was a dew which fell before the manna; for it is said, when the dew fell in the night, the manna fell upon it. But it appears here, that there was also a dew upon it, which went up when the sun rose. So that the manna lay as it were enclosed. This might be designed to keep it pure and clean.

And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
Exodus 16:15. They said one to another, It is manna — The original words, מן הוא, man hu, should certainly have been rendered here, as they literally mean, what is it? or what is this? for it is plain, from what follows, they could not give it a name, for they wist not what it was — It is to be observed, that although it came down from the clouds, not only with the dew, but in a kind of dew, melted, yet it was of such a consistency, as to serve for strengthening food without any thing else. It was pleasant food: the Jews say it was palatable to all, according as their tastes were. It was wholesome food, light of digestion. By this spare and plain diet we are all taught a lesson of temperance, and forbidden to desire dainties and varieties.

This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
Exodus 16:16. According to his eating — As much as is sufficient. An omer is the tenth part of an ephah: about six pints, wine measure. This was certainly a very liberal allowance, and such as might abundantly satisfy a man of the greatest strength and appetite. Indeed, it would seem too much, were it not that it was very light food, and easy of digestion.

And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.
Exodus 16:17. Some more, some less — According as their families were more or less numerous; or as the gatherers were more or less strong and active in gathering it.

And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.
Exodus 16:18. He that gathered much had nothing over — Commentators interpret this in different ways. Some suppose that God wrought a miracle in this case, and so ordered it, that when they came to measure what they had gathered, the store of him that had gathered too much was miraculously diminished to the exact number of omers he ought to have gathered, and the store of him who had not gathered the due quantity, was miraculously increased. Houbigant, however, supposes that this was only applicable to the first time of gathering, “God admonishing them, by this event, that they should afterward do that which he himself had now perfected by his own immediate agency.” But others suppose, that had this been the case, as it was an equal miracle with any other recorded, it would have been mentioned that the Lord had done it. And they think, therefore, all that is meant is, that he who had not gathered a sufficient quantity to make an omer for every one in his family, had it made up to him out of what others had gathered, who had more than enough, and that they charitably assisted each other. This sense of the passage seems to be countenanced by St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 8:13-15. If understood in the first-mentioned sense, the apostle, in the application of it as an argument to encourage charity, must be considered as signifying that God, in an extraordinary manner, in the course of his providences, will bless and prosper those who in charity assist their brethren.

And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.
Exodus 16:19. Let no man leave of it till the morning — For the provision of the next day, as distrusting God’s care and goodness in giving him more. Not that every one was bound to eat the whole of what he had gathered; but they were to dissolve or burn it, as they did the remains of some sacrifices, or to consume it some other way. Thus, they were to learn to go to bed quietly, though they had not a bit of bread in their tents, nor in all their camp, trusting God with the following day to bring them their daily bread. Never was there such a market of provisions as this, where so many hundred thousand men were daily furnished without money and without price: never was there such an open house kept as God kept in the wilderness for forty years together, nor such free and plentiful entertainment given. And the same wisdom, power, and goodness that now brought food daily out of the clouds, doth, in the constant course of nature, bring food yearly out of the earth, and gives us all things richly to enjoy.

Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.
Exodus 16:20. Some of them left of it till the morning — Either distrusting God’s providence, for a future supply, or out of curiosity to learn the nature of this manna, and what they might do if occasion required; it bred worms and stank — Not so much of its own nature, which was pure and durable, as from God’s judgment. Thus will that be corrupted in which we do not trust in God, and which we do not employ for his glory.

And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.
Exodus 16:21. It melted — As much of it as was left upon the ground, not, it seems, from its own nature, which was so solid that it could endure the fire; but that it might not be corrupted, or trodden under foot, or despised, and that they might be compelled, as it were, to the more entire dependance upon God.

And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
Exodus 16:22. On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread — Considering God’s present providence in causing it to fall in double proportion, and remembering that the next day was the sabbath day, which God had blessed and sanctified to his own immediate service, (Genesis 2:3,) and which, therefore, was not to be employed in servile works, such as the gathering of manna was, they rightly concluded that God’s commands (Exodus 16:16; Exodus 16:19) reached only to ordinary days, and must, in all reason, give place to the more ancient and necessary law of the sabbath. The rulers told Moses — Either to acquaint him with this increase of the miracle, or to take his direction for their practice, because they found two commands apparently clashing with each other.

And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
Exodus 16:23. This is that which the Lord hath spoken — Either to Moses, by inspiration, or to the former patriarchs, on a like occasion. It is agreeable to the former word and law of God concerning the sabbath. To-morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath — Here is a plain intimation of the observing a seventh-day sabbath, not only before the giving of the law upon mount Sinai, but before the bringing of Israel out of Egypt, and therefore from the beginning. If the sabbath had now been first instituted, how could Moses have understood what God said to him (Exodus 16:5) concerning a double portion to be gathered on the sixth day, without making any express mention of the sabbath? And how could the people have so readily taken the hint, (Exodus 16:22,) even to the surprise of the rulers, before Moses had declared that it was done with regard to the sabbath, if they had not had some knowledge of the sabbath before? The setting apart of one day in seven for holy work, and in order to that for holy rest, was a divine appointment ever since God created man upon the earth.

And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.
And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.
Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.
And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.
And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?
See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.
Exodus 16:29. The Lord hath given you the sabbath — Hath granted to you and to your fathers the great privilege of it, and the command to observe it. Let no man go out of his place — Out of his house or tent into the field to gather manna, as appears from the occasion and reason of the precept here before mentioned. For otherwise, they might and ought to go out of their houses to the public assemblies, Leviticus 23:3; Acts 15:21; and to lead their cattle to watering, or to help them out of a pit, Luke 13:15; and a sabbath day’s journey was permitted, Acts 1:12.

So the people rested on the seventh day.
And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
Exodus 16:31. It was like coriander-seed — In size, not in colour, for that is dark coloured, but this was white, as is here said, or like bdellium or pearl, Numbers 11:7; and its taste like wafers — Or little cakes made with honey; that is, when it was raw, for when it was dressed, it was like fresh oil. The reader ought to be informed, however, that the Hebrew word here used, and rendered coriander-seed, is of rather doubtful interpretation. It may possibly mean some other small seed.

And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.
And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.
Exodus 16:33-34. Take a pot — A golden pot, Hebrews 9:4. For all the vessels of the sanctuary were of gold. Lay it up before the Lord — That is, in the tabernacle, and by the ark, when they should be built: Before the testimony — The ark of the testimony, or witness, because in it were the tables of the covenant, or the law of God, which was a testimony of God’s authority and will, and of man’s subjection and duty, or of the covenant made between God and man. The preservation of this pot of manna from waste and corruption, was a standing miracle; and, therefore, the more proper memorial of this miraculous food. The manna is called spiritual meat, (1 Corinthians 10:3,) because it was typical of spiritual blessings. Christ himself is the true manna, the bread of life, of which that was a figure, John 6:49-51. The word of God is the manna by which our souls are nourished, Matthew 4:4. The comforts of the Spirit are hidden manna, Revelation 2:17. These comforts come from heaven, as the manna did, and are the support of the divine life in the soul, while we are in the wilderness of this world: it is food for Israelites, for those only that follow the pillar of cloud and fire: it is to be gathered; Christ in the word is to be applied to the soul, and the means of grace must be used: we must every one of us gather for ourselves. There was manna enough for all, enough for each, and none had too much; so in Christ there is a complete sufficiency, and no superfluity. But they that did eat manna hungered again, died at last, and with many of them God was not well pleased: whereas they that feed on Christ by faith shall never hunger, and shall die no more, and with them God will be for ever well pleased. The Lord evermore give us this bread!

As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.
Exodus 16:35. Israel did eat manna forty years — That is, save one month, as appears from Joshua 5:11-12. As Moses did not live to see the cessation of the manna, some have supposed that the words of this verse were added by Ezra. But although Moses did not go into Canaan, yet he came to the borders of it, and he perfectly knew, both from the nature of the thing, and by revelation from God, that the manna would immediately cease upon their entering into Canaan; and therefore might well write in this manner.

Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

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