John 6:31
Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
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(31) Our fathers did eat manna.—He claims to be the Messiah; but the Messiah was to be greater than Moses, and the sign He has shown is less. The Messiah was to cause manna again to fall from heaven, as their Rabbis taught. They had eaten food which, if miraculously multiplied, was still the food of earth—the common bread and common relish—and this on the grassy sward not far removed from the habitations of men. Their fathers had eaten the manna which came direct from God, and was gathered from the granite rocks of the desert; and the Psalmist had told, and Hebrew children loved to chant, that “bread from heaven was that which He gave them to eat.”

6:28-35 Constant exercise of faith in Christ, is the most important and difficult part of the obedience required from us, as sinners seeking salvation. When by his grace we are enabled to live a life of faith in the Son of God, holy tempers follow, and acceptable services may be done. God, even his Father, who gave their fathers that food from heaven to support their natural lives, now gave them the true Bread for the salvation of their souls. Coming to Jesus, and believing on him, signify the same. Christ shows that he is the true Bread; he is to the soul what bread is to the body, nourishes and supports the spiritual life. He is the Bread of God. Bread which the Father gives, which he has made to be the food of our souls. Bread nourishes only by the powers of a living body; but Christ is himself living Bread, and nourishes by his own power. The doctrine of Christ crucified is now as strengthening and comforting to a believer as ever it was. He is the Bread which came down from heaven. It denotes the Divinity of Christ's person and his authority; also, the Divine origin of all the good which flows to us through him. May we with understanding and earnestness say, Lord, evermore give us this Bread.Our fathers - The Jews who were led by Moses through the wilderness.

Did eat manna - This was the name given by the Jews to the food which was furnished to them by God in their journey. It means literally, "What is this?" and was the question which they asked when they first saw it, Exodus 16:14-15. It was small like frost, and of the size of coriander-seed, and had a sweetish taste like honey. It fell in great quantities, and was regarded by the Jews as proof of a continued miracle during forty years, and was incontestable evidence of the interposition of God in favor of their fathers. The manna which is sold in the shops of druggists is a different substance from this. It is obtained from the bark of certain trees in Armenia, Georgia, Persia, and Arabia. It is procured, as resin is, by making an incision in the bark, and it flows out or distils from the tree.

As it is written - The substance of this is written in Psalm 78:24-25.

He gave them - This was regarded as a miraculous interference in their behalf, and an attestation of the divine mission of Moses, and hence they said familiarly that Moses gave it to them.

Bread from heaven - The word "heaven," in the Scriptures, denotes often the region of the air, the atmosphere, or that region in which the clouds are. See Matthew 16:3; "The sky (heaven) is red and lowering." Also Matthew 3:16; Luke 4:15; Luke 5:18. The Jews, as appears from their writings (see Lightfoot), expected that the Messiah would provide his followers with plenty of delicious food; and as Moses had provided for the Jews in the wilderness, so they supposed that Christ would make provision for the temporal wants of his friends. This was the sign, probably, which they were now desirous of seeing.

31. Our fathers did eat manna, &c.—insinuating the inferiority of Christ's miracle of the loaves to those of Moses: "When Moses claimed the confidence of the fathers, 'he gave them bread from heaven to eat'—not for a few thousands, but for millions, and not once only, but daily throughout their wilderness journey." Here they magnify Moses; he did not bring them a law only, but confirmed it by signs from heaven to be the will of God, by obtaining for them bread to be mined from heaven to satisfy their hunger, Exodus 16:15 Numbers 11:7; which is also confirmed by the psalmist, Psalm 78:25. This Moses did for the whole congregation of Israel forty years together. From hence they would seem to conclude, that they had more ground to believe Moses than Christ, who, though he had indeed lately fed five thousand with five loaves, yet had done no such thing. Not considering that Moses, in what he did, was but an instrument to obtain of God by prayer such a miracle, for supporting his people in the wilderness; and that what he had done, was done by a creating power inherent in himself, by which he multiplied that little proportion of bread which they had, to make it sufficient to feed such a quantity as five thousand, besides women and children; to which effect it bare no proportion.

Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness,.... Which was a sort of food prepared by angels in the air, and rained down from thence about the tents of the Israelites; it was a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground; it was like a coriander seed, and the colour of it was the colour of bdellium: it was so called, either from "to prepare", because it was prepared, and got ready for the Israelites; or from the first words that were spoken upon sight of it, , "what is it?" for they knew not what it was: and this the Jewish fathers fed upon all the while they were in the wilderness, till they came to Canaan's land, and they only; it was food peculiar to them: "our fathers did eat"; and so the Jews (f) observe on those words in Exodus 16:35,

""and the children of Israel did eat manna forty years"; the children of Israel, , "not another". And the children of Israel saw, and said, what is it? and not the rest of the mixed multitude.''

Now these Jews object this miracle to Christ, and intimate, that he indeed had fed five thousand of them with barley loaves, and fishes, for one meal; but their fathers, in the times of Moses, to the number of six hundred thousand, and more, were fed, and that with manna, very sweet and delightful food, and for the space of forty years; even all the white they were in the wilderness: and therefore, unless he wrought as great a miracle, or a greater than this, and that of the like kind, they should not think fit to relinquish Moses, and follow him; and in proof of what they said, they produce Scripture,

as it is written in Psalm 78:24, or rather in Exodus 16:15; and perhaps both places may be respected:

he gave them bread from heaven to eat; they leave out the word Lord, being willing it should be understood of Moses, to whom they ascribed it, as appears from the following words of Christ, who denies that Moses gave it; and add the phrase "from heaven", to set forth the excellent nature of it, which is taken from Exodus 16:4, where the manna, as here, is called "bread from heaven".

(f) Zohar in Exod. fol. 75. 2.

Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
John 6:31. This is proved by the suggestion added in John 6:31. οἱ πατέρεςφαγεῖν; they demanded that He as Messiah should make good His claim by outdoing Moses. Schoettgen and Lightfoot quote from Rabbinical literature a relevant and significant saying: “Qualis fuit redemptor primus (Moses) talis erit redemptor ultimus (Messias). Redemptor prior descendere fecit pro iis Manna, sic et Redemptor posterior descendere faciet Manna, sicut scriptum est,” Psalm 73:16. See other instructive passages in Lightfoot. According to this expectation that the Messiah would feed His people supernaturally the crowd now insinuate that though Jesus had given them bread He had not fulfilled the expectation and given them bread from heaven. (For the expression “bread of heaven” see Exodus 14:4 and Psalm 78:23-24.) To this challenge to fulfil Messianic expectation by showing Himself greater than Moses Jesus replies (John 6:32), οὐ Μωσῆςἀληθινόν. A double denial; not Moses, but “my Father” s the giver, and although the manna was in a sense “bread from heaven” it was not “the true bread from heaven,” τὸν ἄρτον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ τὸν ἀληθινόν. This my Father is now giving to you; ὁ γὰρ ἄρτοςτῷ κόσμῳ.

31. manna] More exactly, the manna.

He gave them bread from heaven to eat] A rough quotation of ‘had rained down manna upon them to eat’ (Psalm 78:24). They artfully suppress the nominative (which in the Psalm is ‘God’), and leave ‘Moses’ to be understood. Possibly Nehemiah 9:15 is in their thoughts; if so, there is the same artfulness. On ‘it is written’ see on John 2:17. ‘From heaven’ is literally ‘out of heaven.’

John 6:31. Ἔφαγον, did eat) They appear to speak more moderately than if they were to say: Moses gave us [a sign], therefore our fathers believed him: do Thou also give, and we will believe Thee: comp. ver. foll.—ἄρτον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς φαγεῖν) Septuag., Exodus 16:4, ἄρτους ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ; Psalm 78:24, ἄρτον οὐρανοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς; Exod. same ch. John 6:15, ἔδωκε φαγεῖν. If that λεπτόν [Septuag. Exodus 16:14; “a small round thing,” Engl. Vers.], small thing, was true bread, (Numbers 11:7, “The manna was as coriander seed,”) why should not also circular loaves [as the five, with which Jesus fed the 5000] be true bread?—ἐκ τοῦ σὐρανοῦ, from heaven) Heaven, as opposed to the earth, is taken in the widest sense in the psalm; whence manna is also called the bread of angels, or of heavenly beings: but Jesus opposes to the heaven from which the ancient manna came, the highest heaven. It is with reference to this that the Lord Himself seven times saith, that He has come from heaven: John 6:32-33; John 6:38; John 6:50-51; John 6:58; John 6:62.

Verse 31. - Our fathers, they continued, ate the manna in the wilderness; even as it has been written, He gave them bread out of heaven to eat. If Moses did this, the Christ should do more, seeing he makes this exhaustive claim upon our faith. The manna (see Exodus 16; Numbers 11.) appeared like the hoar frost out of heaven. It was gifted with numerous qualities - perishable if not immediately used, respecting in mysterious way the sabbath sanctity, attending the Israelites through their forty years" wandering, terminating when no longer wanted, utterly unlike, in quantity and quality, to what is the Oriental manna of commerce (Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible,' art. "Manna"). The psalmists spoke of it (Psalm 78:24; Psalm 105:40) as virtually coming down out of heaven, as "corn of heaven," as "angels' food." The Targum of Jonathan, Deuteronomy 34:6, says, "God caused bread to descend from heaven upon the sons of Israel," and a rabbinical commentary on Ecclesiastes, quoted by Lightfoot and Wettestein: "Redemptor prior descendere fecit pro iis manna; sic et Redemptor posterior descendere faciet manna." Consequently, they make the challenge, not as though Jesus had done no sign, but as though he had not done enough to put himself on an equality with Moses. John 6:31Manna

Properly, the manna, referring to the familiar historic fact. A passage is cited from a Hebrew commentary on Ecclesiastes, as follows: "As the first Redeemer made the manna to descend, as it is written, 'Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you'; so the later Redeemer also shall make the manna to descend, as it is written, 'May there be abundance of corn in the earth.'"

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