Numbers 11:6
But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) There is nothing at all . . . —Better, there is nothing, except that our eyes (look) upon, the manna.

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.There is nothing at all ... - literally, "Nought at all have we except that our eyes are unto this manna;" i. e. "Nought else have we to expect beside this manna." On the manna see Exodus 16:15 note; on bdellium see Genesis 2:12 note.6-9. But now … there is nothing … beside this manna—Daily familiarity had disgusted them with the sight and taste of the monotonous food; and, ungrateful for the heavenly gift, they longed for a change of fare. It may be noticed that the resemblance of the manna to coriander seed was not in the color, but in the size and figure; and from its comparison to bdellium, which is either a drop of white gum or a white pearl, we are enabled to form a better idea of it. Moreover, it is evident, from the process of baking into cakes, that it could not have been the natural manna of the Arabian desert, for that is too gummy or unctuous to admit of being ground into meal. In taste it is said to have been like "wafers made with honey" (Ex 16:31), and here to have the taste of fresh oil. The discrepancy in these statements is only apparent; for in the latter the manna is described in its raw state; in the former, after it was ground and baked. The minute description given here of its nature and use was designed to show the great sinfulness of the people, in being dissatisfied with such excellent food, furnished so plentifully and gratuitously. Our soul; either,

1. Our life, as the soul signifies, Genesis 9:5 Psalm 33:19 Job 36:14; or,

2. Our body, which is oft signified by the soul, as Psalm 16:10 Psalm 35:12 105:18. So Leviticus 19:28 21:1 Numbers 5:2.

Is dried away; is withered, and pines away; which possibly might be true through envy and discontent, and inordinate appetite, as 2 Samuel 13:4 Proverbs 14:30.

Before our eyes;

Heb. our eyes see or look to nothing but this manna. They speak as if the manna were only useful to please their eyes with its fine colour and shape, but not to satisfy their appetites, or sustain their natures.

But now our soul is dried away,.... Meaning their bodies, which, for want of flesh food, they pretended had no moisture in them, or they were half starved, and in wasting and consuming circumstances:

there is nothing at all besides this manna before our eyes; which in itself was a truth and matter of fact; they had nothing to look to, and live upon but the manna, and that was enough, and with which, no doubt, many of them were contented, and satisfied and thankful for it, though the greater part were not; and therefore this, though a truth, was foolishly and wickedly spoken, being said in disdain and contempt of the manna: so Christ, the heavenly manna, the antitype of this, of which See Gill on Exodus 16:14; See Gill on Exodus 16:15; See Gill on Exodus 16:16; See Gill on Exodus 16:17; See Gill on Exodus 16:18; is indeed the only food that is set before us in the Gospel to feed and live upon; nor is there anything at all besides him, nor do true believers in him desire any other, but pray that evermore this bread may be given them; but carnal men and carnal professors slight the Gospel feast, of which Christ is the sum and substance; and at least would have something besides him, something along with him, something of their own in justification for him, or to give them a right unto him, or to trust in along with him; they cannot bear to have nothing at all but Christ; or that he, and he alone, should be exalted, and be all in all, as he is justification and salvation, and in the Gospel provision, in which nothing is set before us but him.

But now our soul is {d} dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.

(d) For the greedy lust of flesh.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. this manna] No account has been given in this chapter of the sending of the manna; and it is possible that the writer means to describe not a miraculous food from heaven but a natural phenomenon of the district. Different substances which have been suggested, such as a gum from the tamarisk or târfâ tree, oak honey, or an edible lichen, are described in art. ‘Manna’ in DB. and EBib. If the numbers of the people were really 600,000 (Numbers 11:21), the only miraculous feature in the present case would be the enormous supply required for them. But their numbers were, in all probability, much smaller (see on Numbers 1:46). When the time of D was reached, the manna had come to be considered a mysterious unknown food (Deuteronomy 8:3; Deuteronomy 8:16), and the same idea is seen in P (Exodus 16), who relates (Numbers 11:33 f.) that a pot containing one omer of it was laid up in front of the ark in the Holy of Holies (cf. Hebrews 9:4, Revelation 2:17). The manna as a type of the spiritual ‘Bread that came down from heaven’ forms the subject of our Lord’s discourse to the Jews in John 6:30-35; John 6:41-58.

Verse 6. - Our soul is dried away. This exaggerated statement expressed their craving for the juicy and savoury food of which they had been thinking, and which was obviously unattainable in the wilderness. There is a physical craving in man for variety of diet, and especially for such condiments and flavours as he has been used to all his life, which makes the lack of them a real hardship. It is not necessary to condemn the Israelites for feeling very keenly the loss of their accustomed food, which is notoriously the one thing which the poorest classes are least able to bear; it is only necessary to condemn them for making this one loss of more account than all their gain. There is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes. Rather, "we have nothing (אֵין כֹּל) except that our eye (falls) upon this manna." These graphic words speak of the longing looks which turned in every direction after the accustomed dainties, only to fall with disgust upon the inevitable manna. It was very ungrateful of them to speak disparagingly of the manna, which was good and wholesome food, and sufficient to keep them in health and strength; but it is useless to deny that manna only for people who had been accustomed to a rich and varied diet must have been exceedingly trying both to the palate and the stomach (cf. Numbers 21:5). Numbers 11:6The first impulse to this came from the mob that had come out of Egypt along with the Israelites. "The mixed multitude:" see at Exodus 12:38. They felt and expressed a longing for the better food which they had enjoyed in Egypt, and which was not to be had in the desert, and urged on the Israelites to cry out for flesh again, especially for the flesh and the savoury vegetables in which Egypt abounded. The words "they wept again" (שׁוּב used adverbially, as in Genesis 26:18, etc.) point back to the former complaints of the people respecting the absence of flesh in the desert of Sin (Exodus 16:2.), although there is nothing said about their weeping there. By the flesh which they missed, we are not to understand either the fish which they expressly mention in the following verse (as in Leviticus 11:11), or merely oxen, sheep, and goats; but the word בּשׂר signifies flesh generally, as being a better kind of food than the bread-like manna. It is true they possessed herds of cattle, but these would not have been sufficient to supply their wants, as cattle could not be bought for slaughtering, and it was necessary to spare what they had. The greedy people also longed for other flesh, and said, "We remember the fish which we ate in Egypt for nothing." Even if fish could not be had for nothing in Egypt, according to the extravagant assertions of the murmurers, it is certain that it could be procured for such nominal prices that even the poorest of the people could eat it. The abundance of the fish in the Nile and the neighbouring waters is attested unanimously by both classical writers (e.g., Diod. Sic. i. 36, 52; Herod. ii. 93; Strabo, xvii. p. 829) and modern travellers (cf. Hengstenberg, Egypt, etc., p. 211 Eng. tr.). This also applies to the vegetables for which the Israelites longed in the desert. The קשּׁאים, or cucumbers, which are still called katteh or chate in the present day, are a species differing from the ordinary cucumbers in size and colour, and distinguished for softness and sweet flavour, and are described by Forskal (Flor. Aeg. p. 168), as fructus in Aegypto omnium vulgatissimus, totis plantatus agris. אבטּחים: water-melons, which are still called battieh in modern Egypt, and are both cultivated in immense quantities and sold so cheaply in the market, that the poor as well as the rich can enjoy their refreshing flesh and cooling juice (see Sonnini in Hengstenberg, ut sup. p. 212). חציר does not signify grass here, but, according to the ancient versions, chives, from their grass-like appearance; laudatissimus porrus in Aegypto (Plin. h. n. 19, 33). בּצלים: onions, which flourish better in Egypt than elsewhere, and have a mild and pleasant taste. According to Herod. ii. 125, they were the ordinary food of the workmen at the pyramids; and, according to Hasselquist, Sonnini, and others, they still form almost the only food of the poor, and are also a favourite dish with all classes, either roasted, or boiled as a vegetable, and eaten with animal food. שׁוּמים: garlic, which is still called tum, tom in the East (Seetzen, iii. p. 234), and is mentioned by Herodotus in connection with onions, as forming a leading article of food with the Egyptian workmen. Of all these things, which had been cheap as well as refreshing, not one was to be had in the desert. Hence the people complained still further, "and now our soul is dried away," i.e., faint for want of strong and refreshing food, and wanting in fresh vital power (cf. Psalm 22:16; Psalm 102:5): "we have nothing (כּל אין, there is nothing in existence, equivalent to nothing to be had) except that our eye (falls) upon this manna," i.e., we see nothing else before us but the manna, sc., which has no juice, and supplies no vital force. Greediness longs for juicy and savoury food, and in fact, as a rule, for change of food and stimulating flavour. "This is the perverted nature of man, which cannot continue in the quiet enjoyment of what is clean and unmixed, but, from its own inward discord, desires a stimulating admixture of what is sharp and sour" (Baumgarten). To point out this inward perversion on the part of the murmuring people, Moses once more described the nature, form, and taste of the manna, and its mode of preparation, as a pleasant food which God sent down to His people with the dew of heaven (see at Exodus 16:14-15, and Exodus 16:31). But this sweet bread of heaven wanted "the sharp and sour, which are required to give a stimulating flavour to the food of man, on account of his sinful, restless desires, and the incessant changes of his earthly life." In this respect the manna resembled the spiritual food supplied by the word of God, of which the sinful heart of man may also speedily become weary, and turn to the more piquant productions of the spirit of the world.
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