Numbers 21:5
And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
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(5) This light bread.—The word rendered light denotes something vile or worthless. It was thus that the Israelites regarded the manna which was given to them from heaven; even as the “spiritual meat” which is given to Christ’s Church in His word and ordinances is too commonly regarded amongst ourselves.

Numbers 21:5. The people spake against God — Against Christ, their chief conductor, whom they tempted. Our soul loatheth this light bread — Thus contemptuously did they speak of manna, whereas it appears it yielded excellent nourishment, because in the strength of it they were able to go so many and such tedious journeys.

21:4-9 The children of Israel were wearied by a long march round the land of Edom. They speak discontentedly of what God had done for them, and distrustfully of what he would do. What will they be pleased with, whom manna will not please? Let not the contempt which some cast on the word of God, make us value it less. It is the bread of life, substantial bread, and will nourish those who by faith feed upon it, to eternal life, whoever may call it light bread. We see the righteous judgment God brought upon them for murmuring. He sent fiery serpents among them, which bit or stung many to death. It is to be feared that they would not have owned the sin, if they had not felt the smart; but they relent under the rod. And God made a wonderful provision for their relief. The Jews themselves say it was not the sight of the brazen serpent that cured; but in looking up to it, they looked up to God as the Lord that healed them. There was much gospel in this. Our Saviour declared, Joh 3:14,15, that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, that whatsoever believeth in him, should not perish. Compare their disease and ours. Sin bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. Compare the application of their remedy and ours. They looked and lived, and we, if we believe, shall not perish. It is by faith that we look unto Jesus, Heb 12:2. Whosoever looked, however desperate his case, or feeble his sight, or distant his place, was certainly and perfectly cured. The Lord can relieve us from dangers and distresses, by means which human reason never would have devised. Oh that the venom of the old serpent, inflaming men's passions, and causing them to commit sins which end in their eternal destruction, were as sensibly felt, and the danger as plainly seen, as the Israelites felt pain from the bite of the fiery serpents, and feared the death which followed! Then none would shut their eyes to Christ, or turn from his gospel. Then a crucified Saviour would be so valued, that all things else would be accounted loss for him; then, without delay, and with earnestness and simplicity, all would apply to him in the appointed way, crying, Lord, save us; we perish! Nor would any abuse the freeness of Christ's salvation, while they reckoned the price which it cost him.This light bread - i. e. "this vile, contemptible bread." 5. our soul loatheth this light bread—that is, bread without substance or nutritious quality. The refutation of this calumny appears in the fact, that on the strength of this food they performed for forty years so many and toilsome journeys. But they had been indulging a hope of the better and more varied fare enjoyed by a settled people; and disappointment, always the more bitter as the hope of enjoyment seems near, drove them to speak against God and against Moses (1Co 10:9). Against God; against Christ, their chief Conductor, whom they tempted, 1 Corinthians 10:9.

This light bread, i.e. of small substance and virtue. Thus contemptuously do they speak of manna, whereas it appears it yielded excellent nourishment, because in the strength of it they were able to go so many and such tedious journeys.

And the people spake against God,.... Who went before them in the pillar of cloud and fire, for leading them in such a way; that is, against Christ, as the apostle has taught us to interpret it, 1 Corinthians 10:9, and is no inconsiderable proof of the deity of Christ; and so the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it,"and the people thought in their heart, and spake against the Word of the Lord,''the essential Word and Son of God:

and against Moses; his servant, for obeying the orders of the Lord, and leading and guiding the people as he directed him:

wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? ascribing this equally to God and to Moses; using a strange word, as Aben Ezra calls it, being in a great passion, and not considering well what they said; showing great ingratitude for such a mercy, and representing it in a wrong light, as if the intent of bringing them from thence was to slay them in the wilderness:

for there is no bread; no bread corn, nothing in the wilderness to make bread of; nothing that they called and accounted bread, otherwise they had manna, as is presently owned:

neither is there any water; any fresh water fit to drink, otherwise they were near the sea; what they had from the rock, lately, perhaps was now spent, and it did not follow them as the other rock had:

and our soul loatheth this light bread; the manna; this very light, this exceeding light bread, the radicals of the word (q) used being doubled, which increases the signification: if to be understood of light and easy digestion, it was the more to be valued; but perhaps they meant, it had but little substance and virtue in it, and was not filling and satisfying; or rather that it was exceeding vile, mean, and despicable; so they called the bread of heaven, angel's food, this wonderful gift of Providence; in like manner is Christ, the hidden manna, treated, and his Gospel, and the precious truths of it, by unregenerate men and carnal professors, 1 Corinthians 1:23.

(q) "levissime", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Fagius, Vatablus; "vilissimi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light {c} bread.

(c) Meaning manna, which they thought did not nourish.

5. our soul [i.e. appetite] loatheth this worthless bread] They despised the manna, declaring that it was useless for satisfying hunger.

Verse 5. - There is no bread, neither is there any water. The one of these statements was no doubt as much and as little true as the other. There was no ordinary supply of either; but as they had bread given to them from heaven, so they had water from the rock, otherwise they could not possibly have existed. Our soul loatheth this light bread. קְלקֵל, a stronger form than קַל from קָלַל. Septuagint, διακένῳ. They meant to say, as their fathers had (chapter 11:6), that it was unsavory and unsubstantial in comparison with the heavy and succulent diet of Egypt (see note on chapter Numbers 20:3). Numbers 21:5As they went along this road the people became impatient ("the soul of the people was much discouraged," see Exodus 6:9), and they began once more to murmur against God and Moses, because they had neither bread nor water (cf. Numbers 20:4.), and were tired of the loose, i.e., poor, food of manna (קלקל from קלל). The low-lying plain of the Arabah, which runs between steep mountain walls from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea, would be most likely to furnish the Israelites with very little food, except the manna which God gave them; for although it is not altogether destitute of vegetation, especially at the mouths of the wadys and winter torrents from the hills, yet on the whole it is a horrible desert, with a loose sandy soil, and drifts of granite and other stones, where terrible sand-storms sometimes arise from the neighbourhood of the Red Sea (see v. Schubert, R. ii. pp. 396ff., and Ritter, Erdk. xiv. pp. 1013ff.); and the want of food might very frequently be accompanied by the absence of drinkable water. The people rebelled in consequence, and were punished by the Lord with fiery serpents, the bite of which caused many to die. שׂרפים נחשׁים, lit., burning snakes, so called from their burning, i.e., inflammatory bite, which filled with heat and poison, just as many of the snakes were called by the Greeks, e.g., the ́ ͂, and καύσωνες (Dioscor. vii. 13: Aelian. nat. anim. vi. 51), not from the skin of these snakes with fiery red spots, which are frequently found in the Arabah, and are very poisonous.

(Note: This is the account given by v. Schubert, R. ii. p. 406: "In the afternoon they brought us a very mottled snake of a large size, marked with fiery red spots and wavy stripes, which belonged to the most poisonous species, as the formation of its teeth clearly showed. According to the assertion of the Bedouins, these snakes, which they greatly dreaded, were very common in that neighbourhood.")

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