Exodus 16:31
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.
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(31) Manna.—Rather, man. (See Note on Exodus 16:15.) “Manna” is a Greek form, first used by the LXX. translator of Numbers (Exodus 11:6-7; Exodus 11:9).

It was like coriander seed.—The appearance of the manna is compared above to hoar frost (Exodus 16:14); here, and in Numbers 11:7, to coriander seed. The former account describes its look as it lay on the ground, the latter its appearance after it was collected and brought in. The coriander seed is “a small round grain, of a whitish or yellowish grey.” In Numbers it is further said that the colour was that of bdellium, which is a whitish resin.

The taste of it was like wafers made with honey.—In Numbers the taste is compared to that of fresh oil (Numbers 11:8). The wafers or cakes used by the Egyptians, Greeks, and other ancient nations as offerings, were ordinarily composed of fine wheaten flour, oil, and honey. According to a Jewish tradition which finds a place in the Book of Wisdom (Exodus 16:20-21), the taste of the manna varied according to the wish of the eater, and “tempered itself to every man’s liking.”

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.16:22-31 Here is mention of a seventh-day sabbath. It was known, not only before the giving of the law upon mount Sinai, but before the bringing of Israel out of Egypt, even from the beginning, Ge 2:3. The setting apart one day in seven for holy work, and, in order to that, for holy rest, was ever since God created man upon the earth, and is the most ancient of the Divine laws. Appointing them to rest on the seventh day, he took care that they should be no losers by it; and none ever will be losers by serving God. On that day they were to fetch in enough for two days, and to make it ready. This directs us to contrive family affairs, so that they may hinder us as little as possible in the work of the sabbath. Works of necessity are to be done on that day; but it is desirable to have as little as may be to do, that we may apply ourselves the more closely to prepare for the life that is to come. When they kept manna against a command, it stank; when they kept it by a command, it was sweet and good; every thing is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. On the seventh day God did not send the manna, therefore they must not expect it, nor go out to gather. This showed that it was produced by miracle.manna - It was not indeed the common manna, as they then seem to have believed, but the properties which are noted in this passage are common to it and the natural product: in size, form and color it resembled the seed of the white coriander, a small round grain of a whitish or yellowish grey. 13-31. at even the quails came up, and covered the camp—This bird is of the gallinaceous kind [that is, relating to the order of heavy-bodied, largely terrestrial birds], resembling the red partridge, but not larger than the turtledove. They are found in certain seasons in the places through which the Israelites passed, being migratory birds, and they were probably brought to the camp by "a wind from the Lord" as on another occasion (Nu 11:31).

and in the morning … a small round thing … manna—There is a gum of the same name distilled in this desert region from the tamarisk, which is much prized by the natives, and preserved carefully by those who gather it. It is collected early in the morning, melts under the heat of the sun, and is congealed by the cold of night. In taste it is as sweet as honey, and has been supposed by distinguished travellers, from its whitish color, time, and place of its appearance, to be the manna on which the Israelites were fed: so that, according to the views of some, it was a production indigenous to the desert; according to others, there was a miracle, which consisted, however, only in the preternatural arrangements regarding its supply. But more recent and accurate examination has proved this gum of the tarfa-tree to be wanting in all the principal characteristics of the Scripture manna. It exudes only in small quantities, and not every year; it does not admit of being baked (Nu 11:8) or boiled (Ex 16:23). Though it may be exhaled by the heat and afterwards fall with the dew, it is a medicine, not food—it is well known to the natives of the desert, while the Israelites were strangers to theirs; and in taste as well as in the appearance of double quantity on Friday, none on Sabbath, and in not breeding worms, it is essentially different from the manna furnished to the Israelites.

It was like coriander seed, in shape and figure, but not in colour, for that is dark-coloured, but this white, as it follows here, like bdellium, &c., Numbers 11:7.

The taste of it, when it was raw; but when it was drest it was like fresh oil, Numbers 11:8. And the house of Israel called the name thereof manna,.... For till now they had given it no name; which shows that the words are not to be read as we render them in Exodus 16:15 it is manna, unless this is to be considered as a confirmation of that name; but rather as an interrogation, "what is it?" though, from thence, "man" being the first word they made use of on sight of it, might so call it; or as others, from its being now an appointed, prepared, portion and gift, which they every day enjoyed; see Gill on Exodus 16:15,

and it was like coriander seed, white that the colour of the manna was white is not only here asserted, but is plain from other passages, it being like the hoar frost, which is white, Exodus 16:14 and its colour is the colour of bdellium, Numbers 11:7 or pearl, which is of a white bright colour, as the word is interpreted by the Jews; and who say (u), that the manna was round as a coriander seed, and white as a pearl; but then if it is here compared to the coriander seed on that account, some other seed than what we call coriander seed must be meant, since that is off darkish colour; though it is thought by most that the comparison with it is not on account of the colour, but its form being round, as a coriander seed is, and as the manna is said to be, Exodus 16:14. Josephus (w) thinks it is compared to the coriander seed for its being about the size of that seed; though I must confess it seems to me to be compared to the coriander seed for its colour, and therefore "Gad", the word used, must signify something else than what we call coriander seed; but what that is, is not easy to say: Ben Gersom is of the same mind, and thinks it refers to colour, and fancies the "Gad" had his name from his whiteness, Genesis 20:11. Artapanus (x), the Heathen, makes mention of this food of the Jews in the wilderness, where, he says, they were thirty years; during which time God rained upon them meal like to panic (a sort of grain like millet), in colour almost as white as snow: and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey; or cakes that had honey mixed in them: though in Numbers 11:8 the taste of it is said to be as the taste of fresh oil, which Saadiah Gaon, Aben Ezra, and others, account for thus; that if a man ate of it as it came down, it was as cakes of honey, but, when dressed, it was as the taste of fresh oil; however, it was very palatable and agreeable to the taste; honey that drops from palm trees is said to be not much different in taste from oil: the Jews (y) have a notion that there were all kinds of tastes in the manna, suited to the ages and appetites of persons, and that as they would have it, so it tasted; which notion the author of the book of Wisdom seems to give into,"Instead whereof thou feddest thine own people with angels' food, and didst send them from heaven bread prepared without their labour, able to content every man's delight, and agreeing to every taste. For thy sustenance declared thy sweetness unto thy children, and serving to the appetite of the eater, tempered itself to every man's liking.'' (Wisdom 16:20-21)Leo Africanus (z) speaks of a sort of manna found in great plenty in the deserts in Libya, which the inhabitants gather in vessels every morning to carry to market, and which being mixed with water is drank for delight, and being put into broth has a very refreshing virtue: of the round form and white colour of manna, as applicable to Christ, notice has been taken on Exodus 16:14 and the sweetness of its taste well agrees with him the antitype: his person is so to them who have tasted that the Lord is gracious; his word or Gospel is sweeter than the honey or the honeycomb; his mouth is most sweet, the doctrines that proceed from it, and the exceeding great and precious promises of it; his fruits and the blessings of his grace, peace, pardon, righteousness, &c. are sweet to those that sit under his shadow, where faith often feeds sweetly and with delight upon him,

(u) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 75. 1.((w) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 1. sect. 6. (x) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 436. (y) Shemot Rabba, sect 25. fol. 108. 4. & Bemidar Rabba, sect. 7. fol. 188. (z) Descriptio Africae, l. 7. p. 631.

And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like {n} coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

(n) In form and figure, but not in colour; Nu 11:7.

31. the house of Israel] Unusual: cf. Exodus 40:38, Numbers 20:29, Joshua 21:45 (all P). Leviticus 10:6; Leviticus 17:3; Leviticus 17:8; Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 22:18 (P and H) are rather different.

like coriander seed] So Numbers 11:7. Coriander is an umbelliferous plant, which grows wild in Egypt and Palestine, producing small greyish white round seeds, about the size of a peppercorn, with a pleasant spicy flavour. The seeds are used largely in the East as a spice to mix with bread, and to give an aromatic flavour to sweetmeats (NHB. p. 440). In Numbers 11:8 the manna is also said to have resembled bdellium (Genesis 2:12), i.e. the transparent wax-like gum or resin, valued for its fragrance, called by the Greeks βδέλλα.

wafers] Only here: LXX. ἐγκρίς, i.e. (Athen. xiv. 54, p. 645, cited by Kn.) pastry made with oil and honey. The root means in Arab. and Eth. to spread out. In Numbers 11:8 the taste of the manna is said to have been like a rich oily cake (לְשַׁד הַשֶּׁמֶן, i.e. oily richness; LXX. ἐγκρὶς ἐξ ἐλαίου, Vulg. panis oleatus; RVm. cakes baked with oil). Travellers state that the manna gathered from trees (see below) is used by the natives of the Sinaitic Peninsula as ‘a dainty instead of honey.’

31–34. A further description of the manna, and directions for a pot of it to be preserved in the sanctuary, as a witness to future generations how Israel had been sustained in the wilderness.Verses 31-36. - THE APPEARANCE OF THE MANNA, ITS CONTINUANCE, AND ITS DEPOSITION IN THE TABERNACLE. - In bringing the subject of the manna to a conclusion, the writer adds a few words.

1. On its appearance;

2. On its deposition by divine command in the Ark of the Covenant; and

3. On its continuance during the forty years of the wanderings.

It is evident that verses 32-34 cannot have been written until after the sojourn in Sinai, and the command to make a tabernacle (ch. 26.): as also that verse 35 cannot have been written till the arrival of the Israelites at the verge of the land of Canaan. But there is nothing in the passage that militates against the Mosaic authorship of the whole. Verse 31. - The house of Israel. This expression is unusual, and is not admitted by the Septuagint, the Syriac, or the Arabic versions, which all have "the children of Israel." Several Hebrew MSS. have bent, "sons," instead of beyth "house." Manna. Literally, as in the Septuagint, man - the word used when they first beheld the substance (verse 15), and probably meaning "a gift.:' The elongated form manna, first appears in the Sept. rendering of Numbers 11:6, 7. It was like coriander seed. This is "a small round grain of a whitish or yellowish grey." The comparison is made again in Numbers 11:7, where it is added that the colour was that of bdellium - either the gum so called, or possibly the pearl. The taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Such wafers or cakes were constantly used as offerings by the Egyptians, Greeks, and other nations. They were ordinarily compounded of meal, oil, and honey. Hence we can reconcile with the present passage the statement in Numbers 11:8, that "the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil." Moreover, God bestowed His gift in such a manner, that the Sabbath was sanctified by it, and the way was thereby opened for its sanctification by the law. On the sixth day of the week the quantity yielded was twice as much, viz., two omers for one (one person). When the princes of the congregation informed Moses of this, he said to them, "Let tomorrow be rest (שׁבּתון), a holy Sabbath to the Lord." They were to bake and boil as much as was needed for the day, and keep what was over for the morrow, for on the Sabbath they would find none in the field. They did this, and what was kept for the Sabbath neither stank nor bred worms. It is perfectly clear from this event, that the Israelites were not acquainted with any sabbatical observance at that time, but that, whilst the way was practically opened, it was through the decalogue that it was raised into a legal institution (see Exodus 10:8.). שׁבּתון is an abstract noun denoting "rest," and שׁבּי a concrete, literally the observer, from which it came to be used as a technical term for the seventh day of the week, which was to be observed as a day of rest to the Lord.
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