Numbers 11:8
And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.
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(8) As the taste of fresh oil.—Or, of a fat cake of oil. In Exodus 16:31 the taste of the manna is said to have been “like wafers made with honey.” The ancients used flour cakes mixed with oil and honey.

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. Or, of the most excellent oil; or, of the flour of oil; or, as others, of cakes or paste made with the best oil, the word cakes being easily supplied out of the foregoing member of the verse; or, which is not much differing, like wafers made with honey, as it is said Exodus 16:31. The nature and use of manna is here thus particularly described to show the greatness of their sin in despising such excellent food as this was. And the people went about and gathered it,.... Went about the camp on all sides, where it fell in plenty; this they did every morning, and this was all the trouble they were at; they had it for gathering, without any expense to them:

and ground it in mills: in hand mills, as Aben Ezra; for though it melted through the heat of the sun, and became a liquid, yet, when gathered in the morning, it was hard like grains of corn, or other seeds, and required to be ground in mills:

or beat it in a mortar; with a pestle, as spices are beaten and bruised:

and baked it in pans; or rather boiled it in a pot, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, since it follows:

and made cakes of it; which were baked on the hearth; all which may denote the sufferings of Christ, who was beaten, and bruised, and broken, that he might become fit food for faith, Isaiah 53:4,

and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil; which is very grateful and pleasant, as well as very fattening and nourishing; so that the Israelites had no reason to complain of their being dried away by continual eating of it; See Gill on Exodus 16:31.

And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.
8. fresh oil] a dainty prepared with oil. The word rendered ‘dainty’ denotes something juicy. LXX. has ἐνκρίς, which was a cake made with oil and honey; cf. ‘like wafers made with honey’ (Exod.).Verse 8. - And the people... ground it in mills. This information as to the preparation of the manna is new. It may be supposed that at first the people ate it in its natural state, but that afterwards they found out how to prepare it in different ways for the sake of variety. Small handmills and mortars for the preparation of grain they would have brought with them from their Egyptian homes. As the taste of fresh oil. In Exodus 16:31 it is said to have tasted like wafers made with honey. Nothing is more impossible adequately to describe than a fresh taste. It is sufficient to note that the two things suggested by the taste of the manna, honey and oil, present the greatest possible contrast to the heavy or savoury food which they remembered in Egypt. After a three days' march the Israelites arrived at a resting-place; but the people began at once to be discontented with their situation.

(Note: The arguments by which Knobel undertakes to prove, that in chs. 11 and 12 of the original work different foreign accounts respecting the first encampments after leaving Sinai have been woven together by the "Jehovist," are founded upon misinterpretations and arbitrary assumptions and conclusions, such as the assertion that the tabernacle stood outside the camp (chs. Numbers 11:25; Numbers 12:5); that Miriam entered the tabernacle (Numbers 12:4-5); that the original work had already reported the arrival of Israel in Paran in Numbers 10:12; and that no reference is ever made to a camping-place called Tabeerah, and others of the same kind. For the proof, see the explanation of the verses referred to.)

The people were like those who complain in the ears of Jehovah of something bad; i.e., they behaved like persons who groan and murmur because of some misfortune that has happened to them. No special occasion is mentioned for the complaint. The words are expressive, no doubt, of the general dissatisfaction and discontent of the people at the difficulties and privations connected with the journey through the wilderness, to which they gave utterance so loudly, that their complaining reached the ears of Jehovah. At this His wrath burned, inasmuch as the complaint was directed against Him and His guidance, "so that fire of Jehovah burned against them, and ate at the end of the camp." בּ בּער signifies here, not to burn a person (Job 1:16), but to burn against. "Fire of Jehovah:" a fire sent by Jehovah, but not proceeding directly from Him, or bursting forth from the cloud, as in Leviticus 10:2. Whether it was kindled through a flash of lightning, or in some other such way, cannot be more exactly determined. There is not sufficient ground for the supposition that the fire merely seized upon the bushes about the camp and the tents of the people, but not upon human beings (Ros., Knobel). All that is plainly taught in the words is, that the fire did not extend over the whole camp, but merely broke out at one end of it, and sank down again, i.e., was extinguished very quickly, at the intercession of Moses; so that in this judgment the Lord merely manifested His power to destroy the murmurers, that He might infuse into the whole nation a wholesome dread of His holy majesty.

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