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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 16

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-3


Verses 1-3:

Israel left Elim and continued their journey. The camp in Elim was a pleasant one, with ample water and pasturage for their flocks. The area through which they next traveled was in sharp contrast to this. The "Wilderness of Sin (Zin)" denotes the entire sandy plain along the shore of the Red Sea, from Israel’s encampment at Elim to the southern end of the Sinai Peninsula. Its modern name is El Markha, and is a desolate region whose name comes from a long ridge of white chalk hills. In the distance, behind these hills, they could see the purple streaks of the granite mountains of the Sinai range. To the west was the Red Sea, and beyond it the fertile fields of Egypt.

Israel made camp in the Wilderness of Sin, exactly one month from the day they left Egypt. By this time their food supply was seriously depleted. They could see no possibility of securing any food in the near future. So, they began to murmur and complain. They remembered the generous meals available in Egypt, and saw only their empty pots in the present camp. They charged Moses with bringing them into this desolate land to die from hunger.

Jehovah provided this test, to demonstrate His power to supply every need of His people. He today may lead to an apparently desolate place, that His child may learn to rely on Him to supply in seeming hopeless circumstances, Php 4:19; Mt 6:33.

Verses 4-8

Verses 4-8:

Jehovah instructed Moses in the manner He would provide food for Israel. He would rain "bread" from "heaven." This was not literal bread, made from grain. It was a substance designed to serve instead of bread. It was like the "rain" from heaven, in that it was from God.

The people were to gather enough for only one day at a time, with the exception of the sixth day. Then they were to gather twice the daily allotment, for a Sabbath supply. This was to demonstrate faith, that each day the provision would be ample for the needs of that day.

This illustrates God’s provision today for His own. He provides each day the "daily bread" (Mt 6:11) to meet that day’s needs.

On this occasion, God promised to send meat at evening, and bread in the morning. This seemed impossible - but with God, nothing is impossible (Lu 1:37).

Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron. But Moses made it clear that their murmuring was not against him, but against Jehovah. This princile applies today. God’s people often criticize and complain against their spiritual leader. But if he is leading according to God’s direction and in harmony with the Word, the criticism is in reality against God.

Verses 9-10

Verses 9, 10:

Moses instructed Aaron to assemble the "congregation of the children of Israel." Jehovah -would give proof that these dealings were from Him, by the manifestation of His glory. They looked toward the wilderness, the direction they were traveling, and not toward Egypt from whence they had come. Their needs would be

supplied in following the way God was leading.,

Verses 11-15

Verse 11-15:

Moses relayed Jehovah’s promise to Israel, that He would supply meat and bread in abundance. At the appointed time, He kept His word. Huge coveys of quails flew into the camp-site, see Ps 78:28. History confirms that quails regularly migrate from Syria and Arabia in the Fall; they winter in Arabia; and return northward in immense masses in the Spring. As they came to the coast after the flight across the Red Sea, they are exhausted. They fall to the ground, where they can be easily captured by hand, or killed with sticks.

The quail migration is a natural phenomenon. The quantities on this occasion were miraculous, as was the timing of this event.

The "bread" which Jehovah supplies was miraculous. When the dew dried from the ground each morning, there was left behind a substance resembling frost. The Israelites did not know what this was, so they named it "manna," manah, "what is it?"

Verses 16-21

Verses 16-21:

God prescribed the amount of manna to be gathered daily: an "omer" for each person. This was about three pints. Some gathered more and some less than this amount. Those who gathered less had no lack, and those who gathered more had no excess. This likely refers to unintentional lack or excess.

A strict provision was that none should be saved for the following day. But as is often true, some disregarded this provision, and hoarded a supply - just in case there would be none the next morning. But during the night, the stored manna spoiled, worms bred in it, and it stank. Moses was angered at this evident manifestation of unbelief.

The daily supply of manna is a type of God’s daily supply for the needs of His people, 1Co 10:3; Joh 6:32-35.

Verses 22-26

Verses 22-26:

On the sixth day, the people gathered the manna as usual. When they measured it, the quantity was double that of the other five days. The text implies this was unintentional. The experience of the spoiled manna (v. 20) led the elders to report the matter to Moses. He reminded them of Jehovah’s provision for the double supply (v. 5), in preparation for the Sabbath Day. The manna left over from the sixth day did not spoil.

God always provides the means for His people to obey His commandments no matter what they may be, see Php 2:13.

Verses 27-30

Verses 27-30:

Verse 27 shows that there will always be some who refuse to believe the spiritual leader, even God Himself. They think the situation will be as they wish, not as God says. This is as displeasing to God today as it was in Bible times.

Some in Israel went out to gather manna on the Sabbath, in violation of God’s word that there would be none on that day. This angered God, and He spoke to Moses of this disobedience. "Ye" is plural, and denotes that although God spoke to Moses, the message was for all Israel.

The text shows that antiquity of the Law of the Sabbath. Israel observed this as a day of rest long before the Law was given.

Verses 31-36

Verses 31-36:

The appearance of manna was like "coriander seed." Coriander is a plant in the carrot family. The seeds are whitish or yellowish in color, round, and about the size of a peppercorn. They have a sharp, pleasant aroma. They are ’commonly used for medicinal and culinary purposes.

Nu 11:7 describes manna, as having the appearance of bdellium, a tree common to the Middle East. The gum of this tree, when dry, is transparent and wax-like and resembles a pearl.

Manna had a pleasant taste: like "wafers" tsappihith, made with honey. The text gives no further description.

Jehovah instructed that Aaron gather a pot of manna, and preserve it for display to future generations. This memorial was preserved in the Ark of the Covenant, along with the tablets of the Law and Aaron’s rod that budded, see Ex 25:16-21; Heb 9:24. The text implies that the pot was filled with manna at a later date.

The supply of manna continued until Israel entered Canaan, following the Passover of the forty-first year, after Israel left Egypt, see Jos 5:10-12.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Exodus 16". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/exodus-16.html. 1985.
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