Exodus 17:1
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.

King James Bible
And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.

American Standard Version
And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, by their journeys, according to the commandment of Jehovah, and encamped in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Then all the multitude of the children of Israel setting forward from the desert of Sin, by their mansions, according to the word of the Lord, encamped in Raphidim, where there was no water for the people to drink.

English Revised Version
And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, by their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.

Webster's Bible Translation
And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and encamped in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.

Exodus 17:1 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

The manna was "like coriander-seed, white; and the taste of it like cake with honey." גּד: Chald. גּידא; lxx κόριον; Vulg. coriandrum; according to Dioscorid. 3, 64, it was called γοίδ by the Carthaginians. צפּיחת is rendered ἔγκρις by the lxx; according to Athenaeus and the Greek Scholiasts, a sweet kind of confectionary made with oil. In Numbers 11:7-8, the manna is said to have had the appearance of bdellium, a fragrant and transparent resin, resembling wax (Genesis 2:12). It was ground in handmills or pounded in mortars, and either boiled in pots or baked on the ashes, and tasted like השּׁמן לשׁד, "dainty of oil," i.e., sweet cakes boiled with oil.

This "bread of heaven" (Psalm 78:24; Psalm 105:40) Jehovah gave to His people for the first time at a season of the year and also in a place in which natural manna is still found. It is ordinarily met with in the peninsula of Sinai in the months of June and July, and sometimes even in May. It is most abundant in the neighbourhood of Sinai, in Wady Feirn and es Sheikh, also in Wady Gharandel and Taiyibeh, and some of the valleys to the south-east of Sinai (Ritter, 14, p. 676; Seetzen's Reise iii. pp. 76, 129). In warm nights it exudes from the branches of the tarfah-tree, a kind of tamarisk, and falls down in the form of small globules upon the withered leaves and branches that lie under the trees; it is then gathered before sunrise, but melts in the heat of the sun. In very rainy seasons it continues in great abundance for six weeks long; but in many seasons it entirely fails. It has the appearance of gum, and has a sweet, honey-like taste; and when taken in large quantities, it is said to act as a mild aperient (Burckhardt, Syr. p. 954; Wellsted in Ritter, p. 674). There are striking points of resemblance, therefore, between the manna of the Bible and the tamarisk manna. Not only was the locality in which the Israelites first received the manna the same as that in which it is obtained now; but the time was also the same, inasmuch as the 15th day of the second month (Exodus 16:1) falls in the middle of our May, if not somewhat later. The resemblance in colour, form, and appearance is also unmistakeable; for, though the tamarisk manna is described as a dirty yellow, it is also said to be white when it falls upon stones. Moreover, it falls upon the earth in grains, is gathered in the morning, melts in the heat of the sun, and has the flavour of honey. But if these points of agreement suggest a connection between the natural manna and that of the Scriptures, the differences, which are universally admitted, point with no less distinctness of the miraculous character of the bread of heaven. This is seen at once in the fact that the Israelites received the manna for 40 years, in all parts of the desert, at every season of the year, and in sufficient quantity to satisfy the wants of so numerous a people. According to Exodus 16:35, they ate manna "until they came to a land inhabited, unto the borders of the land of Canaan;" and according to Joshua 5:11-12, the manna ceased, when they kept the Passover after crossing the Jordan, and ate of the produce of the land of Canaan on the day after the Passover. Neither of these statements is to be so strained as to be made to signify that the Israelites ate no other bread than manna for the whole 40 years, even after crossing the Jordan: they merely affirm that the Israelites received no more manna after they had once entered the inhabited land of Canaan; that the period of manna or desert food entirely ceased, and that of bread baked from corn, or the ordinary food of the inhabited country, commenced when they kept the Passover in the steppes of Jericho, and ate unleavened bread and parched cakes of the produce of the land as soon as the new harvest had been consecrated by the presentation of the sheaf of first-fruits to God.

But even in the desert the Israelites had other provisions at command. In the first place, they had brought large flocks and herds with them out of Egypt (Exodus 12:38; Exodus 17:3); and these they continued in possession of, not only at Sinai (Exodus 34:3), but also on the border of Edom and the country to the east of the Jordan (Numbers 20:19; Numbers 32:1). Now, if the maintenance of these flocks necessitated, on the one hand, their seeking for grassy spots in the desert; on the other hand, the possession of cattle secured them by no means an insignificant supply of milk and flesh for food, and also of wool, hair, and skins for clothing. Moreover, there were different tribes in the desert at that very time, such as the Ishmaelites and Amalekites, who obtained a living for themselves from the very same sources which must necessarily have been within reach of the Israelites. Even now there are spots in the desert of Arabia where the Bedouins sow and reap; and no doubt there was formerly a much larger number of such spots than there are now, since the charcoal trade carried on by the Arabs has interfered with the growth of trees, and considerably diminished both the fertility of the valleys and the number and extent of the green oases (cf. Rppell, Nubien, pp. 190, 201, 256). For the Israelites were not always wandering about; but after the sentence was pronounced, that they were to remain for 40 years in the desert, they may have remained not only for months, but in some cases even for years, in certain places of encampment, where, if the soil allowed, they could sow, plant, and reap. There were many of their wants, too, that they could supply by means of purchases made either from the trading caravans that travelled through the desert, or from tribes that were settled there; and we find in one place an allusion made to their buying food and water from the Edomites (Deuteronomy 2:6-7). It is also very obvious from Leviticus 8:2; Leviticus 26:31-32; Leviticus 9:4; Leviticus 10:12; Leviticus 24:5., and Numbers 7:13., that they were provided with wheaten meal during their stay at Sinai.

(Note: Vide Hengstenberg's Geschichte Bileam's, p. 284ff. For the English translation, see "Hengstenberg on the Genuineness of Daniel, etc.," p. 566. Clark. 1847.)

But notwithstanding all these resources, the desert was "great and terrible" (Deuteronomy 9:19; Deuteronomy 8:15); so that, even though it is no doubt the fact that the want of food is very trifling in that region (cf. Burckhardt, Syria, p. 901), there must often have been districts to traverse, and seasons to endure, in which the natural resources were either insufficient for so numerous a people, or failed altogether. It was necessary, therefore, that God should interpose miraculously, and give His people bread and water and flesh by supernatural means. So that it still remains true, that God fed Israel with manna for 40 years, until their entrance into an inhabited country rendered it possible to dispense with these miraculous supplies. We must by no means suppose that the supply of manna was restricted to the neighbourhood of Sinai; for it is expressly mentioned after the Israelites had left Sinai (Numbers 11:7.), and even when they had gone round the land of Edom (Numbers 21:5). But whether it continued outside the true desert, - whether, that is to say, the Israelites were still fed with manna after they had reached the inhabited country, viz., in Gilead and Bashan, the Amoritish kingdoms of Sihon and Og, which extended to Edrei in the neighbourhood of Damascus, and where there was no lack of fields, and vineyards, and wells of water (Numbers 21:22), that came into the possession of the Israelites on their conquest of the land, - or during their encampment in the fields of Moab opposite to Jericho, where they were invited by the Moabites and Edomites to join in their sacrificial meals (Numbers 25:2), and where they took possession, after the defeat of the Midianites, of their cattle and all that they had, including 675,000 sheep and 72,000 beeves (Numbers 31:31.), - cannot be decided in the negative, as Hengstenberg supposes; still less can it be answered with confidence in the affirmative, as it has been by C. v. Raumer and Kurtz. For if, as even Kurtz admits, the manna was intended either to supply the want of bread altogether, or where there was bread to be obtained, though not in sufficient quantities, to make up the deficiency, it might be supposed that no such deficiency would occur in these inhabited and fertile districts, where, according to Joshua 1:11, there were sufficient supplies, at hand to furnish ample provision for the passage across the Jordan. It is possible too, that as there were more trees in the desert at that time than there are now, and, in fact, more vegetation generally, there may have been supplies of natural manna in different localities, in which it is not met with at present, and that this manna harvest, instead of yielding only 5 or 7 cwt., as is the case now, produced considerably more.

(Note: The natural manna was not exclusively confined to the tamarisk, which seems to be the only tree in the peninsula of Sinai that yields it now; but, according to both ancient and modern testimony, it has been found in Persia, Chorasan, and other parts of Asia, dropping from other trees. Cf. Rosenmller ubi supra, and Ritter, 14, pp. 686ff.)

Nevertheless, the quantity which the Israelites gathered every day, - Viz. an omer a head, or at least 2 lbs., - still remains a divine miracle; though this statement in Exodus 16:16. is not to be understood as affirming, that for 40 years they collected that quantity every day, but only, that whenever and wherever other supplies failed, that quantity could be and was collected day by day.

Moreover, the divine manna differed both in origin and composition from the natural produce of the tamarisk. Though the tamarisk manna resembles the former in appearance, colour, and taste, yet according to the chemical analysis to which it has been submitted by Mitscherlich, it contains no farina, but simply saccharine matter, so that the grains have only the consistency of wax; whereas those of the manna supplied to the Israelites were so hard that they could be ground in mills and pounded in mortars, and contained so much meal that it was made into cakes and baked, when it tasted like honey-cake, or sweet confectionary prepared with oil, and formed a good substitute for ordinary bread. There is no less difference in the origin of the two. The manna of the Israelites fell upon the camp with the morning dew (Exodus 16:13, Exodus 16:14; Numbers 11:9), therefore evidently out of the air, so that Jehovah might be said to have rained it from heaven (Exodus 16:4); whereas the tamarisk manna drops upon the ground from the fine thin twigs of this shrub, and, in Ehrenberg's opinion, in consequence of the puncture of a small, yellow insect, called coccus maniparus. But it may possibly be produced apart from this insect, as Lepsius and Tischendorf found branches with a considerable quantity of manna upon them, and saw it drop from trees in thick adhesive lumps, without being able to discover any coccus near (see (Ritter, 14, pp. 675-6). Now, even though the manna of the Bible may be connected with the produce of the tamarisk, the supply was not so inseparably connected with these shrubs, as that it could only fall to the earth with the dew, as it was exuded from their branches. After all, therefore, we can neither deny that there was some connection between the two, nor explain the gift of the heavenly manna, as arising from an unrestricted multiplication and increase of this gift of nature. We rather regard the bread of heaven as the production and gift of the grace of God, which fills all nature with its powers and productions, and so applies them to its purposes of salvation, as to create out of that which is natural something altogether new, which surpasses the ordinary productions of nature, both in quality and quantity, as far as the kingdom of nature is surpassed by the kingdom of grace and glory.

Exodus 17:1 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

sin

Exodus 16:1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin...

Numbers 33:12-14 And they took their journey out of the wilderness of Sin, and encamped in Dophkah...

Rephidim

Exodus 17:8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.

Exodus 19:2 For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness...

Cross References
Exodus 16:1
They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt.

Exodus 17:8
Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.

Exodus 19:2
They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain,

Numbers 20:2
Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.

Numbers 33:12
And they set out from the wilderness of Sin and camped at Dophkah.

Numbers 33:14
And they set out from Alush and camped at Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink.

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