Symbolic Meaning of the Manna
Exodus 16:13-15
And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.…

In the sixth chapter of St. John, where our Lord so emphatically applies to Himself the miracle of the manna, it will be seen He discovers no wish to take from the high estimate which the Jews entertained of this ancient miracle, so only that it was considered as a type, not a mere interposition of Providence to provide by miracles means for their daily support. And casting aside many minor analogies which have been contended for, but which are too much of the nature of fanciful refinements, it is not difficult to trace between the manna and Christ, the True Bread, several broad and instructive resemblances.

1. Thus both were the free, unsolicited gift of heaven, prompted by the sight of man's helplessness and man's misery. "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven," saith our Lord; "but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven." But observe, the gift in either case was the unmerited bestowment of the Eternal Father; whether to nourish the physical life of those wilderness wanderers or to support the spiritual life of believers to the end of time. Jesus Christ is a gift, the eternal life is a gift, enlightening, converting grace is a gift. Human efforts could no more avail to procure these things than the sowing of coriander seed could produce a harvest of manna.

2. Again, this gift was to preserve life. "Ye have brought us forth into the wilderness," said the Israelites to Moses, "to kill this whole assembly with hunger." They saw nothing before them but certain death. The place was desert; a curse of barrenness and drought laid upon it. The whole is a picture of man in this wilderness-world. His soul perishes with hunger; he has the sentence of death within him, a prospect of death before him. But God has rained bread from heaven. Christ, the Wellspring of all spiritual life; Christ, the Source of every active and passive grace; Christ, the energizing Principle of all acceptable obedience. "Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead." It saved them not from the common lot of all men, this bread ye boast of, but "I am the living Bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this Bread he shall live for ever."

3. Trace this parallel further, in the universality of the gift. There were in that wilderness all diversities of character — masters and disciples, owners of flocks and keepers of flocks; rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, and rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: yet to all was to be given the same portion, "an omer to every man, according to the number in their tents." And in like manner, as far as concerns the offer of the blessing, Christ is a universal portion.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.

WEB: It happened at evening that quail came up and covered the camp; and in the morning the dew lay around the camp.

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