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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 16

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-36

Exodus 16:1. The fifteenth day of the second month; that is, Jiar, or the 30th of April. See the table, chap. 12.

Exodus 16:2. Israel murmured. They wantonly said as in Psalms 78:20, Can the Lord give us bread also; can he provide flesh for his people?

Exodus 16:13. The quails covered the camp. It was the time when the corn of Egypt began to ripen, and the quails flocked in great abundance. They fell for a day’s journey round the camp, and in some places two cubits thick.

Exodus 16:15. Manna. Josephus affirms that the Israelites seeing it on the grass said, What is it? which he says is the import of the word. This food was the immediate gift of God to his people; and those are mistaken who have thought it a honey-dew. What has been called a honey-dew falling on certain trees, and on the grass, is nothing more than the bursting of the sweet sap from the leaves of those trees by the excessive heat of the sun; and in such abundance, that sometimes a leaf will suffer a drop to descend on the grass.

Exodus 16:31. It was like coriander seed. Not exactly in colour, but in size and form. The colour is here said to be white; and Numbers 11:7, it is said to be like that of bdellium, a gem or gum. Genesis 2:12.

Exodus 16:33. Take a pot. The LXX, cited by St. Paul, Hebrews 9:4, reads, “a golden pot.” An omer, about three pints. See Cumberland on the Hebrew Measures.


The most high God, to purify his people, and to make their history instructive to future ages, led them by the hand in the desert. The people who had praised him in the triumphant language of faith, the moment their Egyptian provisions were exhausted murmured for bread. No man will patiently bear trials for religion, or seek deliverance by prayer till he has experienced a work of regeneration on his heart. When hunger assails the appetite, Egypt is preferred to Canaan; and men have no confidence in God beyond present appearances. It must also be allowed that even to the best of men, hunger and want is a trying situation. The poor man is sick, or he has no work, and the resources of charity, like the summer streams, begin to dry up. He is surrounded with the piercing looks of a wife, and the cries of children for bread: but this, however hard, should not excite a murmuring thought. It is for the trial of our faith; we should therefore pray most earnestly to God for deliverance, and at the same time avail ourselves of whatever means providence may put in our power, for by these means God will surely send us help.

We may farther observe, that God’s indulgence to sinful men is very great; he gave manna in the morning, and occasionally quails in the evening to a murmuring people. There is however a difference, a very wide difference, between temporal and spiritual prosperity. He often gives the wicked flesh and abundance in his wrath, but to the righteous he gives special marks of his favour, while their outward condition is distinguished by affliction and want.

We are also instructed by Jesus Christ to regard this manna as a figure of the true bread, which our heavenly Father gives to his children. The Israelites ate manna, and died in the desert. But we have in Christ the bread of heaven, that we may eat and never die. How pure, how incorruptible and reviving is that food with which the Lord sustains his church in the wilderness. It is milk and honey, marrow and fatness. The sacraments and all the ordinances abound with grace, to nourish the soul with the health of eternal life.

The Lord so gave this manna as to connect it with industry; they were every morning employed in collecting the food that fell from heaven during the night. Thus should we also be diligently employed in collecting food and strength from God, by meditation and prayer, and especially in the early part of the day. Devotion in a morning, when so performed as to acquire its genuine spirit, is a pledge of health and strength to the soul throughout the day; and that man who is not diligent in the means of grace is weak and languid. His soul cannot taste the heaven which those enjoy “who worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” This is the hidden manna, reserved in Christ the Ark, for the faithful and victorious soul.

From this passage our Saviour demonstrated his Godhead and glory, because he declared himself to be the bread of God which came from heaven, and gave life to the world. And being in his own person, the Lord and giver of life, he is able to sustain the soul with heavenly food, that man may eat and never die.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Exodus 16". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/exodus-16.html. 1835.
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