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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 16

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-36

The children of Israel are moving now through the wilderness.

And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. [So they have been actually journeying now for about forty-five days.] And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for you have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill the whole assembly with hunger ( Exodus 16:1-3 ).

Now this is really a very unfortunate accusation; it's an untrue accusation, but people can sometimes be so cruel. Now they're hungry, and when people are hungry sometimes they'll say-when a man gets hungry sometimes they can become like a bear. You just want to feed them before you talk to them, really. These people were hungry, and so they said, "It would have been better off for us to have died back in Egypt by those flesh pots with a full stomach, full of bread, than out here in this wilderness to starve do death. Why did we ever listen to you guys?"

You know they so quickly forgot the misery and the bondage, the cruel bondage of Egypt. It is oftentimes like this when a person, after coming out of the bondage of sin, and out of its experiences in the world, many times as we look back at them they seem to be more glamorous than they were when we were in them. We forget the emptiness. We forget the cruel bondage that we experienced. We forget what it was as far as the pain and the hurt, and the suffering. All we remember is the full stomach.

So as they are remembering their experience in Egypt, all they're remembering was the plus side of it, "the full stomach as we sat by the flesh pots". They were saying, "Hey, we would be better off if we were back there, and we died there by the plague of God, by the plagues that God were bringing. If the Lord had slain us with the Egyptians, we'd have been better off than being here, and dying of hunger."

Then said the LORD to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or not ( Exodus 16:4 ).

So God says, "All right, I'll give them bread from heaven, but we'll prove to see if they're gonna walk in my law or not."

And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. Moses and Aaron said unto the children of Israel, At evening, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt: And in the morning, then shall ye see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: what are we, that ye murmur against us? ( Exodus 16:5-7 )

Now they were murmuring to Moses and Aaron. But Moses and Aaron said, "Hey man, you're not really murmuring against us, you're murmuring against God. It's God that has brought you to this place, not we. And your murmurings are against God."

I think that this is something that we need to take into account when we're prone to complain about our lot in life. Who is it that has brought me here? Any complaining that I do is in reality complaining against God. For God is the one who has brought me to these circumstances. God is the one who has placed me here, unless I've been disobedient to Him. But my complaints are really against the Lord, and that's a very serious thing, to be complaining against God.

So Moses said, "I refuse to accept your complaints. You're not murmuring against me, you're murmuring against the Lord."

And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD hears your murmurings which you murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD( Exodus 16:8 ).

So he's emphasizing that point to them. "Your murmuring against your situation is actually when you get down to the bottom line, you're murmuring against God."

So Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings. So it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud ( Exodus 16:9-10 ).

Now this must have been quite an awesome sight. The cloud had been leading them, and suddenly in this cloud, the glory of the Lord appeared. Now it doesn't declare how and in what manner the glory of the Lord appeared, but it was no doubt an awesome kind of a display, or demonstration where God just demonstrated His glory there in the cloud. Now one of these days very soon God's gonna demonstrate His glory in the clouds again, as Jesus comes with clouds and great glory, demonstrating His glory in the clouds. But there, God demonstrated His glory unto the children of Israel.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God. And it came to pass, that at evening quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. [That would be the host of Israel.] And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they knew not what it was ( Exodus 16:11-15 ).

Manna actually means "what is it?" So they saw this little round seed-like thing on the ground, and they said, "What is it?" because they didn't know what it was.

And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. Now this is the thing which the LORD has commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer [And we don't know how much that was.] for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. And when they did measure it out with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. And Moses said, Let no man leave of it until the morning ( Exodus 16:15-19 ).

In other words, "Eat it all up, don't leave any overnight, don't try to keep it overnight.

Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was angry with them ( Exodus 16:20 ).

People just don't listen. Moses said, "Now look, don't leave any over till the morning. Just, you know, get rid of it, whatever is left at night, get rid of it." Some of them tried to save some so they wouldn't have to go out early in the morning and gather it, and it got wormy and stunk. So Moses naturally-God said, "Hey I'll prove them to see if the heart can gather manna". They're failing the test miserably.

They gathered it every morning, and every man according to his eating: and when the sun was waxed hot, it melted. And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD has said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that which ye will seethe; and that which remain over lay up for you to be kept until the morning ( Exodus 16:21-23 ).

So on the sixth day they could keep it overnight and it wouldn't breed worms and stink because the next day was to be the Sabbath.

Now it is interesting that here the Sabbath was established and practiced before the law was given. So already the idea of six and one, six days of labor, a day of rest, had been established in their national life. This is before God established the law with Israel in which He said, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." Now, we'll get into that when we get into the twentieth chapter. I want to talk to you a little bit about the Sabbath day.

Now they would bake this. They would-they would grind it like a grain into a flour and they would bake it into bread. Or they would boil it sometimes, and eat it like a cereal. I would imagine just like in Central America where they've learned to make so many different dishes with the rice that these inventive women, no doubt, learned to spice the stuff up different ways, and make a lot of interesting kind of dishes out of this manna. This little seed kind of a thing that God put on the ground for them every morning.

And they laid up till the morning, as Moses had commanded: and they did not stink, neither was there any worms in it. And Moses said, Eat that today; for today is a sabbath unto the LORD: today you shall not find it in the field. For six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, there will be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day to gather it, and they found none. The LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse you to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide every man of his place, on the sabbath or on the seventh day ( Exodus 16:24-29 ).

Now actually the Sabbath day was a day of rest, and really God is saying here, "Let every man just stay in his bed." Now we, you know, somehow got the concept, "Well you know the day that is holy unto the Lord is the day we all go to church. We gather and worship God in church." In reality the Sabbath day wasn't so much a worship day as it was a rest day. It was a day for just total rest and relaxation. Just a change of pace giving the body a chance to more or less recover.

Now the Lord said, "Six days shalt thou labour and do thy work, but the seventh day is a day of rest." God said, "I have given you the Sabbath." The Sabbath was made for man. God made it for man to give the body a chance to just sort of recuperate. The idea was just stay in bed, rest, do nothing. It wasn't really get up and go to Sabbath school, or go to synagogue, or whatever. It was just stay in bed and rest on the Sabbath day. I don't know, but what that wouldn't be a good idea.

So the people rested on the seventh day. And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like a coriander seed, white; the taste of it was like wafers that were made with honey. [So a little honey biscuit kind of a thing.] And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of the manna in it, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations ( Exodus 16:30-33 ).

So this pot of manna was preserved, so that in years to come the people could see the manna, the food that God provided in the wilderness for their fathers. When the tabernacle was built, the mercy seat, this pot of manna was inside of this little box, the mercy seat, along with Aaron's rod that budded.

The LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid up before the Testimony, to be kept. And the children of Israel did eat manna for forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came to the borders of Canaan. Now an omer is a tenth part of an ephah ( Exodus 16:34-36 ).

Whatever that is, we don't know, but that's what it is. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Exodus 16". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/exodus-16.html. 2014.
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