Deuteronomy 8:3
And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you knew not, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD does man live.
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(3) And he . . . suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee.—A process naturally humbling. He might easily have fed them without “suffering them to hunger.” But He did not give them the manna until the sixteenth day of the second month of the journey (see Exodus 16:1; Exodus 16:6-7); and for one whole month they were left to their own resources. When it appeared that the people had no means of providing sustenance during their journey, “they saw the glory of the Lord” in the way in which He fed them; and for thirty-nine years and eleven months “He withheld not His manna from their mouth.”

Manna, which thou knewest not.—Its very name (but see Note on Exodus 16:15) commemorates the fact “unto this day.” All the natural things which have been called manna (and Dr. Cunningham Geikie, in “Hours with the Bible,” has described several) do not afford the least explanation of the bread which God gave Israel to eat.

That man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord.—Not here alone, but throughout the Law, as in the Gospel, we are taught that life is to do the will of God. Our Saviour called that “My meat.” What the visible means of subsistence may be is a secondary matter. Man’s life is to do the will of God: “My commandments, which, if a man do, he shall even live in them.” “He that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

But the special interest of these words arises from our Lord’s use of them in the hour of temptation. He also was led forty days (each day for a year of the Exodus) in the wilderness, living upon the word of God. At the end of that time it was proposed to Him to create bread for Himself. But He had learnt the lesson which Israel was to learn; and so, even when God suffered Him to hunger, He still refused to live by His own word. He preferred that of His Father. “And the angels came and ministered unto Him.” It is noticeable that all our Lord’s answers to the tempter are taken from this exhortation upon the Decalogue in Deuteronomy 6-10.

Deuteronomy 8:3. By every word of the Lord doth man live — By every, or any thing which God appoints and blesses for this end, how unlikely soever it may seem to be for the support and nourishment of the human frame. For it is not the creature, without God, that is sufficient for the support of life; it is only his command and blessing that makes it sufficient. We ought not, therefore, to fix our dependance, as we are prone to do, on natural causes, but to remember that we depend, absolutely, entirely, and immediately, on him for life and all things.8:1-9 Obedience must be, 1. Careful, observe to do; 2. Universal, to do all the commandments; and 3. From a good principle, with a regard to God as the Lord, and their God, and with a holy fear of him. To engage them to this obedience. Moses directs them to look back. It is good to remember all the ways, both of God's providence and grace, by which he has led us through this wilderness, that we may cheerfully serve him and trust in him. They must remember the straits they were sometimes brought into, for mortifying their pride, and manifesting their perverseness; to prove them, that they and others might know all that was in their heart, and that all might see that God chose them, not for any thing in them which might recommend them to his favour. They must remember the miraculous supplies of food and raiment granted them. Let none of God's children distrust their Father, nor take any sinful course for the supply of their necessities. Some way or other, God will provide for them in the way of duty and honest diligence, and verily they shall be fed. It may be applied spiritually; the word of God is the food of the soul. Christ is the word of God; by him we live. They must also remember the rebukes they had been under, and not without need. This use we should make of all our afflictions; by them let us be quickened to our duty. Moses also directs them to look forward to Canaan. Look which way we will, both to look back and to look forward, to Canaan. Look which way we will, both to look back and to look forward will furnish us with arguments for obedience. Moses saw in that land a type of the better country. The gospel church is the New Testament Canaan, watered with the Spirit in his gifts and graces, planted with trees of righteousness, bearing fruits of righteousness. Heaven is the good land, in which nothing is wanting, and where is fulness of joy.But by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord - literally, "every outgoing of the mouth of the Lord." Compare Deuteronomy 29:5-6. The term "word" is inserted by the King James Version after the Septuagint, which is followed by Matthew and Luke (see the marginal references). On the means of subsistence available to the people during the wandering, see Numbers 20:1 note. The lesson was taught, that it is not nature which nourishes man, but God the Creator by and through nature: and generally that God is not tied to the particular channels ("bread only," i. e. the ordinary means of earthly sustenance) through which He is usually pleased to work. 2, 3. thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness—The recapitulation of all their checkered experience during that long period was designed to awaken lively impressions of the goodness of God. First, Moses showed them the object of their protracted wanderings and varied hardships. These were trials of their obedience as well as chastisements for sin. Indeed, the discovery of their infidelity, inconstancy, and their rebellions and perverseness which this varied discipline brought to light, was of eminently practical use to the Israelites themselves, as it has been to the church in all subsequent ages. Next, he enlarged on the goodness of God to them, while reduced to the last extremities of despair, in the miraculous provision which, without anxiety or labor, was made for their daily support (see on [121]Ex 16:4). Possessing no nutritious properties inherent in it, this contributed to their sustenance, as indeed all food does (Mt 4:4) solely through the ordinance and blessing of God. This remark is applicable to the means of spiritual as well as natural life. i.e. By every or any thing which God appoints for this end, how unlikely soever it may seem to be for nourishment, as appears in the manna; seeing it is not the creature, but only God’s command and blessing upon it, that makes it sufficient for the support of life. And he humbled thee,.... Or afflicted thee with want of bread:

and suffered thee to hunger; that there might be an opportunity of showing his mercy, and exerting his power:

and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; a sort of food they had never seen before, and when they saw it, knew not what it was, but asked, what is it? Exodus 16:15. Thus the Lord humbles his people by his Spirit and grace, and brings them to see themselves to be in want, and creates in them desires after spiritual food, and feeds them with Christ the hidden manna, whose person, office, and grace, they were before ignorant of:

that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only; which is the stay and staff of life, and which strengthens man's heart, and is the main support of it, being the ordinary and usual food man lives upon, and is put for all the rest:

but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live: not so much by the food he eats as by the blessing of God upon it, and who can make one sort of food as effectual for such a purpose as another; for every creature of God is good being received with thankfulness, and sanctified by the word and prayer; and particularly he could and did make such light food as manna was to answer all the purposes of solid bread for the space of forty years in the wilderness; the Targum of Jonathan is,"but by all which is created by the Word of the Lord is the life of man;''which seems to agree with 1 Timothy 4:3,4 for the meaning is not that the Israelites in the wilderness, and when come into the land of Canaan, should not live by corporeal food only, but by obedience to the commands of God, by means of which they should continue under his protection, which was indeed their case; nor that man does not live in his body only by bread, but in his soul also by the word of God, and the doctrines of it, which is certainly true; spiritual men live a spiritual life on Christ, the Word of God, and bread of life, and on the Gospel and the truths of it, the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus, and are nourished up with the words of faith and sound doctrine, by means of which their spiritual life is supported and maintained; but this is not what is here intended.

And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by {c} bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

(c) Man does not live by meat only, but by the power of God, who gives it strength to nourish us.

3. And he humbled thee, etc.] Better, So He; for the v. proceeds to illustrate the facts by which God’s purpose of proving the people was carried out. In the main these were two: first the hunger of the people and then the provision of manna.

suffered thee to hunger] Heb. one verb, only here and in Proverbs 10:3.

and fed thee with manna] For manna see the full notes by Driver, Exodus 16:14 f., 31–35.

which thou knewest not, etc.] See on Deuteronomy 7:9. So J, Exodus 16:15, what is it? for they wist not what it was.

that not upon bread only doth man live but upon every thing that proceedeth out of the mouth of Jehovah] The language—in particular every thing—is ambiguous. It is usually read as expressing an antithesis between bread, the natural or normal support of man and produced by himself, on the one hand, and on the other, when bread fails, the creative word of God with whatever (= every thing) it may produce (so Driver and Bertholet, etc., with differences). But the antithesis is rather between only and every thing: man lives not upon bread only, but upon everything (bread included) that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. On the word of God, creative and determining, from time to time changing what man shall live upon, but always the cause of this, man is utterly and always dependent. This is in harmony with the teaching of D throughout, that of all material blessings the God of Israel alone is the author. By translating every word for every thing the LXX sways the meaning in another direction: that man lives not by material food only but by the spiritual guidance of God; and this is the antithesis which Christ appears to present in Matthew 4:4[127]. Although such a higher spiritual meaning is not expressed in this verse, it underlies the context, which reminds Israel that God’s providence of them has been not only physical, but moral as well.

[127] In his Synoptic Gospels Mr C. G. Montefiore limits the meaning of Jesus to that of Deut.: ‘Jesus asserts that the word of God will provide for his physical needs. God can by his creative word fashion material whereby man’s life can be sustained, as he did in the case of the manna. More simply, God will provide for the physical needs of his messenger.’Verse 3. - God humbled the Israelites by leaving them to suffer hunger from the want of food, and then supplying them with food in a miraculous manner. They were thus taught that their life depended wholly on God, who could, by his own creative power, without any of the ordinary means, provide for the sustaining of their life. And fed thee with manna (cf. Exodus 16:15). It is in vain to seek to identify this with any natural product. It was something entirely new to the Israelites - a thing which neither they nor their fathers knew; truly bread from heaven, and which got from them the name of manna or man, because, in their wondering ignorance, they knew not what to call it, and so they said one to another, Manhoo? (מָן הוּא), What is it? and thenceforward called it man. That he might make thee know, etc. "Bread," which the Jews regarded as "the staff of life," stands here, as in other places, for food generally; and the lesson taught the Israelites was that not in one way or by. one kind of means alone could life be sustained, but in the absence of these God could, by his own fiat, provide for the sustenance of his children. Every word - literally, all, everything whatever - that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord, i.e. all means which God has by his word provided, or by his word can provide, for the sustenance of life. So our Lord cites this passage in replying to the tempter, who had suggested that if he was the Son of God he might relieve himself from the pangs of hunger by commanding the stones which lay around to become bread. Our Lord's reply to this is virtually." I have this power, and could use it, but I will not; for this would imply impatience and distrust of God, who has engaged to sustain the life of his servants, and who can, by the mere word of his mouth, by his creative will, provide in an extraordinary way for the sustenance of life when the ordinary means of life are wanting." "Jesus means to say, ' I leave it with God to care for the sustaining of my life, and I will not arbitrarily and for selfish ends help myself by a miracle'" (De Wette, note on Matthew 4:4; see also Meyer on the place). Israel had no need to be afraid of them, as Jehovah was in the midst of it a mighty God and terrible. He would drive out the nations, but only gradually, as He had already declared to Moses in Exodus 23:30-31, and would smite them with great confusion, till they were destroyed, as was the case for example at Gibeon (Joshua 10:10; cf. Exodus 23:27, where the form המם is used instead of הוּם), and would also deliver their kings into the hand of Israel, so that their names should vanish under the heaven (cf. Deuteronomy 9:14; Deuteronomy 25:19; and for the fulfilment, Joshua 10:22., Deuteronomy 11:12; Deuteronomy 12:7-24). No one would be able to stand before Israel.
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