Chapter 16

Manna and Quail Provided

    • One month after the Israelites left Elim heading toward Sinai, they came to the Wilderness of Sin.

    • All of the Israelites complained to Moses because they were hungry. They said, “We wish the Lord had killed us back in Egypt when we had all the meat and bread we desired instead of bringing us out to this wilderness to starve.”

    • The Lord told Moses that He was going to rain down bread from heaven for them. The Israelites were to go out and gather enough food for that day each morning. This would be a test to see if they would be obedient. On the 6th day, when they prepared what they gathered there would be twice as much as usual.

      • “The blessing of bread from heaven came with the responsibility of obedience. This responsibility would test Israel and measure their obedience. The test came on the sixth day, when they were to gather twice as much, so the seventh day could be received as a day of rest.” (Guzik)

    • Moses and Aaron told the Israelites, “By this evening you’ll realize who brought you out of Egypt. He has heard your complaints and they are against Him, not us. We have done nothing for you ourselves. The Lord will give you meat to eat this evening and bread in the morning.”

    • Then Moses told Aaron to tell the Israelites to go before the Lord because He had heard their complaints. As Aaron spoke to them, the Israelites turned toward the wilderness and the Lord’s glory appeared before them in a cloud.

    • The Lord told Moses, “I have heard the Israelites complaints. Tell them this: You will eat meat tonight and in the morning you’ll eat bread until you’re full. Then you’ll know that I am the Lord your God.”

      • “One would think that with the experience of the plagues, Passover, and the deliverance at the Red Sea, Israel would already know that the Lord had brought them out of Egypt. Yet experiences, even great experiences, don’t change the heart as much as we often think.” (Guzik)

    • That evening the camp was covered with quail. The next morning after the dew had evaporated, fine flakes covered the ground. The Israelites had never seen anything like it before.

      • Cole adds, “The quails mentioned here migrate regularly between south Europe and Arabia across the Sinai Peninsula. They are small, bullet-headed birds, with a strong but low flight, usually roosting on the ground or in the low bushes at nightfall. When exhausted, they would be unable to…take off again. The birds are good eating, and were a favorite delicacy of the Egyptians.”

      • Numbers 11:8 says that they ground it on millstones or beat it in the mortar, cooked it in pans, and made cakes of it; and its taste was like the taste of pastry prepared with oil.” (Guzik)

      • “The purpose for giving the bread from heaven was not only to provide for the material needs of Israel, but also to teach them eternal lessons of dependence on God. This is demonstrated in passages like Deuteronomy 8:3: So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. When God puts us in a place of need, He wants to do more than meet the need. He wants to teach eternal lessons.” (Guzik)

    • The Lord commanded that they gather enough for each person to eat- an omer for each person in your tent. The Israelites obeyed.

      • “An omer could be as much as a gallon, especially in the later history of Israel. But at this early point in Israel’s history it may have meant only a cupful. It is an imprecise measure.” (Guzik)

    • Moses told them not to keep any of it for the next morning, but some of the Israelites didn’t listen and the portions that they kept spoiled, stank, and bred worms. This angered Moses.

    • After this, the Israelites gathered only what they were supposed to gather and whatever was left on the ground melted in the sun.

    • On the 6th day they gathered twice the normal amount and the leaders came to ask Moses why the were allowed to do this on the 6th day. Moses told them what the Lord had said, “Tomorrow is the holy Sabbath day, which is a day of complete rest. Prepare what you will eat for tomorrow and set it aside.”

    • The Israelites obeyed and the portions they had set aside did not spoil.

    • On the 7th day, Moses told the Israelites to eat what they had because the Lord would not send any that day. Despite this, some people still went out looking for it on the 7th day. Moses declared, “How long will you refuse to obey my instructions? The Lord has given you the Sabbath day to rest, so on the 6th day you will gather enough for 2 days.”

      • Guzik makes a powerful assessment, “People today still look for life and fulfillment in places God has said there would be none.”

    • The Israelites named the bread “manna.” It was white in color and looked similar to coriander seed. It tasted like honey wafers.

Coriander Seed
    • The Lord told Israel that the Lord commanded them to save a full omer of the manna throughout their generations so that their descendants could see the bread that the Lord fed them when He brought them out of Egypt.

      • “This pot full of the bread from heaven was later put into the ark of the covenant, referred to here as the Testimony (Hebrews 9:4).” (Guzik)

    • Moses told Aaron to put the manna in a container and put it in the Lord’s sacred place (the testimony) to preserve it and Aaron obeyed.

    • The Israelites ate this manna until they came to the border of Canaan, the land that they would settle. They ate manna for a total of 40 years.

– Guzik writes, “This manna, this bread from heaven, is a powerful picture of Jesus Himself. After the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus had a discussion with people who wanted Him to keep on feeding them with His miraculous power. They wanted Jesus to provide for them just Israel was provided for with manna in the wilderness. This is what Jesus said in reply:

Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. (John 6:32-33)…

Jesus is the bread from heaven, and we have to receive Him like Israel received the manna.

· Aware of our need, hungry

· Each for himself, family by family

· Every day

· Humbly – perhaps even on our knees

· With gratitude, knowing we don’t deserve it

· Eating it, taking the gift inside, to our innermost being