Exodus 16



                           THE FIRST MURMURING FOR FOOD (vs. 1-3)



From Elim, or the fertile tract extending from Wady Ghurnndel to Wady Tayibeh,

the Israelites, after a time, removed, and encamped (as we learn from

Numbers 33:10) by the Red Sea, probably along the narrow coast tract

extending from the mouth of Tayibeh to the entrance upon the broad plain

of El Markha. Hence they entered upon “the wilderness of Sin, which is

between Elim and Sinai” — a tract identified by some with the coast plain,

El Markha, by others with the inland undulating region known at the

present day as the Debbet-er-Ramleh It is difficult to decide between these

two views. In favor of El Markha are:


Ø      The fact that the Egyptian settlements in the Sinaitic peninsula would

                        thus be avoided, as they seem to have been, since no contest with

                        Egyptians is recorded;

Ø      The descent of the quails, who, wearied with a long flight over the Red

                        Sea, would naturally settle as soon as they reached the shore;

Ø      The greater openness and facility of the El Markha and Wady Feiran

                        route, which is admitted by all; and

Ø      The suitability of the latter to the particulars of the narrative in ch. 18.


In favor of the route by the Debbet-er-Ramleh are:


Ø      The fact that it is better watered at present than the other;

Ø      Its being somewhat less removed from the direct line between Wady

Ghurundel and Sinai than El Markha; and

Ø      A certain correspondency of sound or meaning between some of the

                        narrative. In “the wilderness of Sin” the Israelites for the first time

found themselves in want of sufficient nourishment. They had

consumed the grain which they had brought with them out of Egypt; and

though no doubt they had still considerable flocks and herds, yet they

were unaccustomed to a mere milk and flesh diet, having in Egypt lived                

                        principally upon bread (v.3), fish (Numbers 11:5), and vegetables (ibid.).                

                        They therefore “murmured,” and accused Moses and Aaron of an            

                        intention to starve them.  It is quite possible that many of the poorer sorts  

                        having brought with them no cattle, or lost their cattle by the way, and not            

                        being helped by their brethren, were in actual danger of starvation. Hence             

                        God was not angry, but “heard their murmurings” (v. 9) patiently, and              

                        relieved them.


1 “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.”

And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of

the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin  - the form of expression

seems to imply that the Israelites proceeded in detachments from Elim, and were first

assembled as a complete host when they reached the “wilderness of Sin.”  This accords

well with their numbers and with the character of the localities. They could only

assemble  all together when they reached some considerable plain “which is between

Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out

of the land of Egypt.” - on the 15th of Zif, exactly one month after their departure from

Egypt. As only seven camping places are mentioned (Numbers 33:5-11), and one

journey of three days through a wilderness (ch. 15:22), it is evident that there must

either have been long stays in several places, or that they must have often encamped in

places which had no name. Viewed as an itinerary, the record is manifestly incomplete.


2 “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses

and Aaron in the wilderness:”  It has been observed above, that only the poorer sort

could have been as yet in any peril of actual starvation; but it may well have been that

the rest, once launched into the wilderness, and becoming practically acquainted with its

unproductiveness, foresaw that ultimately starvation must come upon them too, when all

the cattle were eaten up, or had died through insufficient nourishment Nothing is more

clear than that, without the miracle of the manna, it would have been impossible for a

population of two millions to have supported themselves for forty years, or even for

 two years, in such a region as the Sinaitic peninsula, even though it had been in

ancient times three or four times as productive as at present. The cattle brought out

of Egypt must have rapidly diminished (ch.17:3); and though the Israelites had brought

with them also great wealth in the precious  metals, yet it must have been some time

before they could establish commercial relations with the neighboring nations so as

to obtain such supplies as they needed. Thus we can well understand that at the

expiration of a month the people generally should have recognized that their situation

was one of great danger, and should have vented their discontent upon their leaders. 


3 “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 bythe flesh pots,

and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth

into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

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 - “Would that God had smitten us

with a painless death, as He did the first-born of the Egyptians! Then we should

have avoided the painful and lingering death from starvation which we now see

 before us.”   The cry puts on the garb of piety, and names the name of Jehovah,

but indicates a want of faith in Him, His power, and His promises (chps. 4:8,17;

6:8; 12:25; 13:5, 11), which was sinful, and, after the miracles that they had seen,

barely excusable.  “when we sat by the flesh pots” - Compare Numbers 11:5.

Both passages make it clear that, whatever the sufferings of the Israelites in Egypt

from the cruelty of the taskmasters and the hard tasks set them, at any rate their

sustenance was well cared for — they had abundance of agreeable food -  “and when

we did eat bread - It has been said that “bread” here means “food in general;”

and no doubt the word has sometimes that sense. But it was probably actual bread,

rather than anything else, for which the Israelites were longing. See the Introduction

to the chapter.



                        The Unreasonableness of their Discontent (vs. 1-3)


The people of Israel experience now the second trial that has come upon them since the

passage of the Red Sea. First, they had nothing which they could drink (ch. 15:24); now

they are afraid that they will soon have nothing to eat. They have consumed their dough

(ch. 12:39), their grain, their flour; many of them have consumed, or lost, their beasts.

The land around them produces little or nothing that is edible; no settled inhabitants

show themselves from whom they may purchase food. If there are Egyptian store-

houses in the district, they are shut against the enemies of Egypt. So the Israelites,

one and all, begin to despair and murmur. How irrational their conduct! The

unreasonableness of discontent is shown:



      HAVE SEEN FREQUENT INSTANCES OF IT. The Israelites had been

      brought out of Egypt “by a mighty hand” — delivered through means of a

series of wonderful miracles. They had escaped the pursuit of Pharaoh by

having a path made for them through the waters of the Red Sea. They had

witnessed the destruction of Pharaoh’s choicest warriors by the return of the waves

on either side. They had very recently thought themselves on the point of perishing

with thirst; and then by the simplest possible means God had made the bitter water

sweet and agreeable. Now, they had found themselves fallen into a new difficulty.

They had no bread, and foresaw a time when all their food would be exhausted.

They were not really, if the rich imparted of their superfluous cattle to the poor,

in any immediate danger. Yet, instead of bearing the trial, and doing the best they

      could under the circumstances, they began to murmur and wish themselves

      dead.  They did not reflect upon the past; they did not use it as a standard by which

      to estimate the future. They acted exactly as they might naturally have done, had they

      had no previous evidence of God’s power to deliver. And so it is to this day in human

      life frequently. We do not witness miracles, but we witness signal deliverances of

      various kinds — an enemy defeated at the moment that he seemed about to carry all

      before him — the independence of a nation saved when it appeared to be lost-        

      drought succeeded by copious rains — overmuch rain followed by a glorious          

      month for harvest. Yet, each time that a calamity threatens, we despond; we

            forget all the past; we distrust God’s mercy; we murmur; we wish, or say

            we wish, that we had died before the trial came.





      OF SOME PREVIOUS ONE. The Israelites, fearing starvation, thought of nothing

      but the delight of sitting by the fleshpots of Egypt, and eating bread to the full. They

      omitted to reflect on their severe toils day after day, on the misery of feeling

      they were slaves, on the murder of their children by one tyrant, and the         requirement

      of impossible tasks by another, on the rudeness to which they were daily exposed,

      and the blows which were hourly showered on them.  They omitted equally to

      consider what they had gained by quitting Egypt — the consciousness of freedom,

      the full liberty of worshipping God after their conscience, the constant society of

      their families, the bracing air of the Desert, the perpetual evidence of God’s presence

      and providential care in the sight of the pillar of the cloud and of fire, which

      accompanied them. And men still act much the same. Oh! for the delights of

      boyhood, they exclaim, forgetting all its drawbacks. Oh! for the time when I

      occupied that position, which I unwisely gave up (because I hated it). The present

      situation is always the worst conceivable — its ills are magnified, its good points

      overlooked, thought nothing of again, how unreasonable! The allegorical tale which

      tells of a pilgrim who wished to change his cross, and after trying a hundred others,

      found that the original one alone fitted him, is applicable to such cases, and should

      teach us a lesson of content.  (Why is it that as humans, we want what we can’t get

      and then when we get it, it wasn’t what we wanted after all? – CY – 2010)



      Moses and Aaron were not to blame for the situation in which the Israelites

      found themselves. They had done nothing but obey God from first to last.

      God had commanded the exodus — God had led the way — God had forbidden     

      the short route along the shore to the country of the Philistines, and had brought       

      them into the “wilderness of the Red Sea,” and that desolate part of it called

      “the wilderness of Sin.” Moses and Aaron were but his mouthpieces. Yet the           

      Israelites murmured against them. Truly did Moses respond — “What are we?        

      Your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.” (v. 8)  And

      so are all murmurings. Men are but God’s instruments; and, in whatsoever    

      difficulty we find ourselves, it is God who has placed us there. Murmuring

      against men is altogether foolish and vain. We should take our grief straight to        

      God; we should address Him, not with murmuring, but with prayer. We should       

      entreat Him to remove our burden, or to give us strength to bear it, We should          

      place all in His hands.



                              The Promise of Bread from Heaven (vs. 4-8)


When men who are in real distress make complaint, even though the tone of their complaint

be not such as it ought to be, God in His mercy is wont to have compassion upon them, to

hear their mummurings,” and grant them some relief. But the relief is seldom of the kind

which they expect, or pray for. The Israelites wished for actual bread, made of wheaten or

barley flour. God gave them, not such bread, but a substitute for it. And first, before giving it,

He promised that it should be given. Thus expectation was aroused; faith was exercised; the

supernatural character of the relief was indicated; the power and the goodness of God, were,

both of them, shown forth. And with the promise was given a law. They were on each

occasion to gather no more than would suffice for the day. Thus they would continually

“live by faith,” taking no thought for the morrow, but trusting all to God.  (Matthew 6:34)


4 “Then said the LORD unto 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 no.” 

Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread (Compare Psalm

78:24; Nehemiah 9:15; John 6:31-51)   from heaven for you - it was called “bread,”

because it was intended to serve instead of bread, as the main support of life during

the sojourn of Israel in the wilderness; and it  was said to be “from heaven,” first,

as descending on ‘the ground out of the circumambient air; and secondly, as

miraculously sent by Him, whose seat is in heaven - 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 no.”  As in Paradise God coupled with His free gift of

“every tree  of the garden, thou mayest freely eat” the positive precept, “But of

the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it:  for in the

day that thou eastest thereof THOU SHALT SURELY DIE!”  (Genesis 2:16-17) -

that He might prove our first parents, whether they would obey Him or not — so

now He “proved” the obedience of the Israelites by a definite, positive command -

they were not to gather on ordinary days more than was sufficient for the day.

All life is intended as a probation. 



Murmurings (vs. 1-4)


In the “Wilderness of Sin,” between Elim and Sinai, on the 15th day of the

second month after the departing of Israel out of Egypt (v. 1). One short

month, but how much can be forgotten even in so brief a space of time!

(Compare ch. 32:1). Egypt now lay at a little distance. The supplies of the

Israelites were failing them. God lets the barrel of meal and the cruse of oil

run out (I Kings 17:12), before interposing with His help. Thus He tries

what manner of spirit we are of. Our extremity is His opportunity. Consider



  • THE PEOPLE’S MURMURINGS (v. 2). These are brought into

strong relief in the course of the narrative.


1. “The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured’’ (v. 2).

2.  “He heareth your murmurings against the Lord, and what are we that

      ye murmur against us?” (v. 7).

3.      “The Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against Him,

and what are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against

the Lord”(v. 8).

4.      “He hath heard your murmurings” (v. 9).

5.      “I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel (v. 12).


Ø      They murmured, and did not pray. They seem to have left that to Moses

(compare ch. 14:15). Remembering what Jehovah had already done for

them — the proofs He had already given them of His goodness and

faithfulness — we might have thought that prayer would have been their

first resource. But they do not avail themselves of it. They do not even

raise the empty cries of  ibid. v. 10. It is a wholly unsubmissive and

distrustful spirit which wreaks its unreasonableness on Moses and Aaron in

the words, “Ye have brought us forth into the wilderness to kill this whole

assembly with hunger” (v. 3). We who blame them, however, have only

to observe our own hearts to see how often we are in the same

condemnation. (See Hamilton’s “Moses,” Lect. 14. — “Murmurs.”) It is

ever easier, in times of difficulty, to murmur than to pray. Yet how much

better for ourselves, as well as more dutiful to God, could we learn the

lesson of coming with every trouble to the throne of grace.


“But with my God I leave my cause;

From Him I seek relief;

To Him in confidence of prayer

Unbosom all my grief”


Had Israel prayed more, relief might have come sooner.


Ø      Their behavior affords some interesting illustrations of what the

murmuring spirit is. Distinguish this spirit from states of mind which bear a

superficial resemblance to it.


o        From the cry of natural distress. When distress comes upon us,

we cannot but acutely feel the pain of our situation, and with this

is connected the tendency to lament and bewail it. The dictates

of the highest piety, indeed, would lead us to imitate David in

studying to be still before God. “I was dumb, I opened not my

mouth because thou didst it” (Psalm 39:9).  Yet listen to this

same David’s lamentations over Absalom (II Samuel 18:33).

There are few in whom the spirit of resignation is so perfectly

formed — in whom religious motives so uniformly and entirely

predominate — that a wail of grief never escapes their lips. It

would, however, be cruel to describe these purely natural

expressions of feeling as “murmurings,” though it is to be

admitted that an element of murmuring frequently mingles

with them.


o        From the expostulations of good men with God, caused by the

perplexity and mystery of His dealings with them. Such

expostulations, e.g., as those of Moses in ch. 5:22-23; or of Job,

in several of his speeches (Job 7:11-21; 10:1-22); or of

Jeremiah (Jeremiah 4:10; 20:7). As Augustine says of Moses,

“These are not words of contumacy or indignation, but of

inquiry and prayer.”


Ø      Even from the desperate speeches of good men, temporarily carried

beyond bounds by their sorrow. Job enters this plea for himself — “Do ye

imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, which

are as wind” (Job 6:26); and we feel at once the justice of it. This was

not murmuring. These wild speeches — though not blameless — were but

a degree removed from raving. What elements, then, do enter into the

murmuring spirit — how is it to be described?


o        At the basis of it there lies distrust and unsubmissiveness. There is

distrust of God’s goodness and power, and want of submission to

His will in the situation in which He has placed us. The opposite

spirit is exemplified in Christ, in His first temptation in the

wilderness (Matthew 4:1-4; compare Deuteronomy 8:3).


o        Connected with this, there is forgetfulness of, and ingratitude for,

benefits formerly received. This is very conspicuous in the case of

these Israelites (v. 3).


o        The characteristic feature of this spirit is the entertaining of

injurious thoughts of God the attempt to put God in the wrong

by fastening on Him the imputation of dealing harshly and

injuriously with us. The murmuring spirit KEEPS THE EYE


and labors hard to make out a case of ill treatment. (Does

not this spirit spill out from many who are protesting wrongs

in today’s society?  CY – 2017)  Its tone is complaining. It would

arraign the Eternal at its puny bar, and convict Him of injustice?

It is:


§         narrow,

§         self-pitying, and

§         egoistic.


o        It expresses itself in accusations and reproaches. The mental

point of view already indicated prepares the way for these, and

leads to them being passed off as righteous charges. God is

charged foolishly!


o        It is prone to exaggeration. The Israelites can hardly have been

as well off in Egypt as they here pretend, though their words

(v. 3) show that their rations in bondage must have been fairly

liberal. But the wish to make their present situation look as dark

as possible, leads them to magnify the advantages of their former

one. They did not think so much of it when they had it.


o        Murmuring against God may not venture to express itself directly,

and yet may do so indirectly. The murmuring of the Israelites was

of this veiled character. They masked their rebellion against God,

and their impeaching of His goodness, by directing their

accusations against His servants. It was God against whom they

murmured (vs. 7-8), but they slightly veiled the fact by not

mentioning God, but by speaking only of Moses and Aaron. We

should remember this, in our contendings with Providence. The

persons on whom our murmuring spirit wreaks itself may be

secondary agents — the voluntary or involuntary causes of our

misfortunes — or even persons in no way directly concerned with

our trouble — (I believe when I taught health in high school,

that this is a defensive mechanism called displacement – CY –

2017) but be they who they may, if the spirit be bitter and

rebellious, it is God, not they, whom we are contending

against (compare Genesis 50:19, 20; II Samuel 17:10).



(v. 4). It is a most astonishing fact that on this occasion there is not, on

God’s part, a single severe word of reproof of the people’s murmurings,

far less any punishment of them for it. It could not at this time be said —

“Some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer”

(I Corinthians 10:10). The appearance of the glory in the cloud warned

and abashed, but did not injure them (v. 10). The reason was not that

God did not hear their murmuring, nor yet that He mistook its import, as

directed ostensibly, not against Him, but against Moses and Aaron. The

Searcher of Hearts knows well when our murmurings are against Him

(vs. 7-8). But:


Ø      He pitied them. They were really in great need. He looked to their need,

more than to their murmurings. In His great compassion, knowing their

dire distress, He treated their murmurings almost as if they were prayers

— gave them what they should have asked. The Father in this way

anticipated the Son (Matthew 15:32).


Ø      He was forbearing with them in the beginning of their way. God was

not weakly indulgent. At a later time, when the people had been longer

under training, they were severely punished for similar offences

(compare Numbers 21:5); but in the preliminary stages of this

wilderness education, God made large and merciful allowances for them.

Neither here, nor at the Red Sea, nor later, at Rephidim, when they

openly “tempted” Him (ch. 17:1-8), do we read of God so much as

chiding them for their wayward doings: He bore with them, like a

father bearing with his children.  He knew how ignorant they were;

how much infirmity there was about them; how novel and trying were

the situations in which He was placing them; and He mercifully gave

them time to improve by His teaching. Surely a God who acts in this

way is not to be called “an hard master.” Instead of sternly punishing

their murmurings, He took their need as a starting-point, and sought

to educate them out of their murmuring disposition.


Ø      He purposed to prove them. He would fully supply their wants, and so

give them an opportunity of showing whether their murmuring was a

result of mere infirmity — or was connected with a deeply ingrained

spirit of disobedience. When perversity began to show itself, He did

not spare reproof (v. 28).


5 “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.”

“And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day  - That a period of seven days

was known to the Hebrews as a week appears from the story of Jacob and Laban

(Genesis 29:27). But there is no distinct evidence that the year was as yet divided

into weeks, much less that the several days of the week were as yet distinguished as

the first, second, third day, etc. “The sixth day,” here probably means “the sixth

day after’ the first supply of the manna - they shall prepare that which

they bring in” - The preparation would be, first, by measurement (v.18), and then

by pounding and grinding (Numbers 11:8) – and it shall be twice as much

as they gather daily.” - Some commentators suppose that in these words is implied

an order that on the sixth day they should set themselves to gather a double quantity.

But the natural meaning of the words is, that, having gathered the usual quantity,

they should find, when they measured it, that, by miracle, the supply sufficient for

one day was multiplied, so as to suffice for two.  This view is in harmony with v. 18,

which tells of a miraculous expansion and diminution of the manna after it had

been gathered, and with v. 22, which shows us “the rulers” surprised by the

miracle of the sixth day. 


6 “And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye

shall know that the LORD hath  brought you out from the land of Egypt:”

At even, then ye shall know. See vs. 12-13. The first evidence which the Israelites

would have, that God had heard ‘and considered their complaints, would be the

descent of the quails at even of the day on which Moses and Aaron addressed them.

That the Lord hath brought you out i.e., “that it is not we who, to gratify our

own personal ambition, have induced you to quit Egypt under our guidance; but

that all which we have done has been to act as God’s instruments, and to

carry out His designs.”


7 “And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that He

heareth your murmurings against the LORD:  and what are we, that ye

murmur against us?”  And in the morning then ye shall see the glory of the

Lord.  This has been supposed to refer to the manifestation of God’s presence

recorded in v. 10; but the balance of the two clauses in vs. 6-7 implies two similar

manifestations, and their arrangement shows the priority of the evening one. Now

the manifestation of v. 10 preceded the coming of the quails. The manifestation

which followed it, which was similar, and in the morning, was the fall of the manna.

For that He heareth your murmurings. The connection of this clause with the

preceding furnishes an additional argument in favor of the exposition that “the

glory of God,” spoken of in this verse is the manna. Against the Lord.

Professedly and directly against us, but indirectly and really against God,

whose instruments we have been in the whole matter of the exodus. What

are we? i.e., “What power have we of our own? We have no hereditary

rank, no fixed definite position. We are simply the leaders whom you have

chosen to follow, because you believed us to have a commission from God.

Apart from this, we are nobodies. But, if our commission is conceded, we

are to you in the place of God; and to murmur against us is to murmur

against Jehovah.”


8 “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 heareth

your murmurings which ye murmur against Him: and what are we? your

murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD”  When the lord shall

give you in the evening flesh to eat.  Moses must have received a distinct intimation

of the coming arrival of the quails, trough he has not recorded it, his desire of

brevity causing him to retrench all that is not absolutely necessary for the right

understanding of the narrative. It is, comparatively, seldom that he records both

the Divine message and his delivery of it. In general, he places upon record either

the message only, or its delivery only. Bread to the full. Compare above,

v. 4; and infra, vs. 12 and 18. The Lord heareth your murmurings. The latter

part of this verse is, in the main, a repetition of v. 7; but it emphasizes the

statements of that verse, and prepares the way for what follows.



                        The Mercy of God in Hearing and Helping Even an

    Ungrateful and Discontented People (vs. 4-8)


God is very merciful to those who are in covenant with Him, whom He has chosen for

His own, and made “the sheep of his pasture.” Very often, and very far may they go

astray, turn from the right way, rebel against Him, refuse to hearken to His voice,

murmur, misuse His ministers and slander them, yet not alienate Him wholly. Indefectible

grace must not indeed be claimed by any man as his own portion; for none can know that

he possesses it; yet the way of God, on the whole, appears to be to reclaim His

wandering sheep; recall them to a sense of what is their duty; and restore them

to the fold whence they have strayed. All that can be done with this object He does for

the Church now, as for the congregation of the children of Israel in the wilderness.


  • HE PARDONS THEIR OFFENCES. Distrust, discontent, ingratitude,

            even when openly expressed in speech, He forgives in His mercy, not seven

            times only, but “seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22)  How many murmur

            at their lot; complain of their worldly condition, or their lack of spiritual gifts,

            or their unhappy position under ministers of whom they do not approve; or the

            coldness and unsympathetic temper of their friends, or the want of any due

            appreciation by others of their merits! It is, comparatively speaking, rarely

            that we meet with a contented person. Yet God is so merciful, that He

            bears with the murmurers — yea, even “hears their murmurings,” and

            devises means for their relief.


  • HE GIVES THEM BREAD FROM HEAVEN. “Every good gift and

            every perfect gift” is from Him, and “cometh down from the Father of

            Lights with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”

            (James 1:17) - The material sustenance of daily life is one form of “bread

            from heaven,” wherewith He daily provides the millions who look to Him.

            His holy word is another form, a heavenly gift, the sustenance of many souls.

            But, as He tells us, He Himself is “the true bread from heaven” (John 6:32-51).

            In and through the Eucharist, He gives us Himself to be our spiritual food and          

            sustenance, the bread of life, the true manna, meat indeed. If we worthily receive    

            the blessed sacrament of His body and blood, then we “spiritually eat the flesh of    

            Christ and drink his blood; then we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us; we are one     

            with Christ, and Christ with us” — “our sinful bodies are made clean by His

body, and our souls washed through His most precious blood.” Thus, He gives        

            us, in the highest, most perfect, and most spiritual way, that which is the great         

            need of our souls, “bread from heaven.”


  • HE GIVES THEM LAWS TO PROVE THEM. With blessing duty goes ever hand

      in hand. To every gift God attaches some law of direction for its use. The gift of the

      manna had its own laws — its law of gathering, and its law of reserving or not reserving.

      The holy Eucharist has also its one great law — a law fixing the mental attitude —

      “Do this in remembrance of me.” To make it a mere supper, as the Corinthians did

      (I Corinthians 11:20-34), albeit a love-feast,   symbolical of Christian fellowship and

      unity, is to break this law. The Eucharist is “for the continual remembrance of the

      sacrifice of the death of Christ” — for the calling to mind His sufferings for our

      sins, His atonement for our guilt, His deliverance of us from Satan, death,

      and hell, by His one oblation of Himself once offered upon the Cross. it is by

      this remembrance that our penitence is made acute, our gratitude called forth, our

      hearts enabled to “lift themselves up,” our spirits stirred to love, and joy, and

      thankfulness; and obedience to this law on our part is a necessary condition to our

      receiving the benefits of the Eucharist. Thus we too, when “bread from heaven” is

            rained upon us, have a law given to us to prove us, whether we will walk in God’s

            law or not.



                                                THE PROMISE FULFILLED


Moses had made a double promise to the Israelites in God’s name. “The Lord shall give

you,” he had said,” in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full”

(v. 8). And now the time for the fulfillment of the double promise approached.

First, however, before they received the blessings, he required them to present them-

selves before the Lord. As they had rebelled in murmuring, an act of homage was

proper; and as they had called in question the conduct of Moses and Aaron, some token

that God approved the action of these His faithful servants, and would support them,

was needed. Hence the appearance of the Lord to the congregation in the cloud (v.10).

After this, when evening approached, the quails fell. A vast flight of this migratory bird,

which often arrives in Arabia Petraea from the sea (Diod. Sic. 1:60), fell to the earth

about the Hebrew camp, and, being quite exhausted, lay on the ground in a state which

allowed of their being taken by the hand. The Israelites had thus abundant “flesh to

eat” (v. 8), for God “sent them meat enough” (Psalm 78:26-28). The next morning,

the remainder of the promise was fulfilled. When they awoke, they found that the

vegetation about the camp was covered with a sort of dew, resembling hoar-frost,

which was capable of easy detachment from the leaves, and which proved to be an

edible substance. While they were in doubt about the phenomenon, Moses informed

them that this was the “bread from heaven” which they had been promised (v.15).

At the same time he instructed them as to the quantity which they should gather, which

he fixed at an omer for each member of their family (v. 16). In attempting to carry

out these instructions, mistakes were not unnaturally made; some exceeded the set

quantity, others fell short of it. But the result was found to be the same. Whatever the

quantity gathered, when it was brought home and measured, the amount was by

miracle made to be exactly an omer for each (v.18). Afterwards, Moses gave another

order. The whole of the manna was to be consumed (ordinarily) on the day on which it

was gathered.  When some wilfully disobeyed this command, the reserved manna was

found on the next day to have become bad — it had bred worms, and gave

out an offensive odor. This circumstance put a stop to the malpractice.


9 “And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children

of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for He hath heard your murmurings. 

10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto 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.  11 And the LORD spake unto

Moses, saying,  12  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.”

I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them,

saying, At even ye shall eat flesh” - Literally, “between the two evenings” –

This phrase has been explained in two ways. Some regard the first evening as

commencing when the sun begins visibly to decline from the zenith, i.e. about

two or three o’clock; and the second as following the sunset.  Others say, that the

sunset introduces the first evening, and that the second begins when the twilight

ends, which they consider to have been “an hour and twenty minutes later”

(Ebn Ezra, quoted by Kalisch).  Ye shall eat flesh” The quails, as appears by the

subsequent narrative, were supplied, not regularly, but only on rare occasions; in fact

(so far as appears), only here in the wilderness of Sin, and at Kibroth-hattaavah in the

wilderness of Paran (Numbers 11:31-34). They were not a necessity, but an indulgence.   

“and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am

the LORD your God.” - The miracle of the manna, and the timely appearance of the

quails at the hour announced, will sufficiently show that it is God Himself who has

you under His charge and watches over you. 



He Nurtured Them in the Wilderness (vs. 11-12)


Continual mention of murmurings; yet all such murmurings do not meet the

same treatment (compare Numbers 11:31-33). Much alike to outward

seeming, but not so in the sight of God. (illustration — the ruddy hue of

health; the hot flush of passion; the hectic of consumption. All much alike

in appearance, yet how different to those who know what they betoken!)

Comparing the history of one murmuring with that of another, we can see

by God’s treatment of each how different must have been the states from

which they resulted. Here it is the impatience of ill-instructed children; later

on, it has become hostility and rebellion. Consider in this case:


  • THE SYMPTOMS. Compare v. 3. The monotony of the wilderness had

had time to tell upon the people; so different from the varied routine of

Egypt. Slavery, too, had become, from long use, almost a second nature

with many; they had chafed under it, yet, in some sort, they had relied upon

its restraint as a support. After the first novelty has passed, unaccustomed

freedom is felt to be a weariness. (Illustration: The cripple rejoices to be

quit of his supporting irons and crutches, but without them, at first, he

soon tires.) Present privation, contrasted with past sufficiency, intensified

the misgivings which were sure to come when the new life was fairly

entered upon. Freedom wedded to starvation seemed to be but a poor

exchange for tyranny. “The people murmured.” It was the murmuring of

the half-weaned child, the yet weak though enfranchised cripple; it

expressed itself in strong language; but the language was stronger than the

offense. Under the circumstances murmuring was so natural that it did not

call for severe censure; it was rather a symptom of imperfect health,

suggesting the need of strengthening medicine.


  • THE TREATMENT. God knew what was the matter; His action

shows His knowledge. No rebuke, only a promise, which is to be, and is,

fulfilled immediately. (Illustration: The doctor does not take offense at the

irritability of the convalescent; says, “I will send some strengthening

medicine,” sends it, and relies on the effect.) A table spread in the

wilderness; the love of freedom revived and strengthened, nurtured by the

longed-for food. What should be the effect of such treatment? It stays

murmuring, of course; but, further, it should strengthen against further

murmuring. On the other hand, whilst it may, as it ought to do, lead to

reliance upon the provider, it may also lead to reliance upon the food

provided. (Illustration: One patient, strengthened by medicine, will have

more confidence in the doctor. Another, strengthened in like manner, will

be always grumbling, whatever the circumstances, if he do not experience

like treatment.)




Ø      God treats us all according to our real character and position “How

unjust,” says one, “that that man should have so much easier a time than I.

That my comparatively slight offence should be punished so much more

heavily than his, which is far more heinous!” Nay! By What standard do

you measure the relative enormity of the offenses? God’s standard is

character and experience; the child’s open defiance is less heinous than

the man’s half-veiled impatience.


Ø      God’s treatment should inspire confidence in Himself. All God’s gifts

are index fingers saying, “Look off from us to God.” Our tendency is to

rest upon them and credit them as the causes of the satisfaction they

occasion. The same medicine may not be appropriate next time, but the

same doctor may be trusted. If we forget the doctor and think only of the

medicine, we shall be as irritable and dissatisfied as ever; only by

confidence in the Physician himself can we hope to go on “from strength

to strength.”  (Psalm 84:7)


13 “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.”  - The quails came up.

Diodorus says that “the inhabitants of Arabia Petraea prepared long nets, spread

them near the coast for many stadia, and thus caught a great number of quails

which are in the habit of coming in from the sea” (2:60). The quail regularly

migrates from Syria and Arabia in the autumn, and winters in the interior of Africa,

whence it returns northwards in immense masses in the spring (Schubert,

Reise, vol. 2. p. 361). Kalisch thinks that the particular species of quail

intended is the kata of the Arabs (Tetrao Alchata of Linnaeus); but the

common quail (Tetrao coturnix) is preferred by most commentators. When

these birds approach the coast after a long flight over the Red Sea, they are

often so exhausted that they rather fall to the ground than settle, and are

then easily taken by the hand or killed with sticks. Their flesh is regarded

by the natives as a delicacy. Covered the camp i.e., covered all the

ground between the tents in which the Israelites lived in the wilderness.

The dew lay. Literally, “there was a layer of dew” — something, i.e., lay

on the ground outside the camp which looked like dew, and was in part

dew, but not wholly so.


14 “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.”  The moisture which lay upon the herbage soon evaporated,

drawn up by the sun; and then the miracle revealed itself. There remained

upon each leaf and each blade of grass a delicate small substance, compared here to

hoar frost”, and elsewhere (Numbers 11:7) to coriander seed,” which was easily

detached and collected in bags or baskets. The thing was altogether a novelty to the

Israelites, though analogous in some degree to natural processes still occurring in the

country. These processes are of two kinds.  At certain times of the year there is a

deposit of a glutinous substance from the air upon leaves and even upon stones, which

may be scraped off, and which resembles thick honey. There is also an exudation from

various trees and shrubs, especially the tamarisk, which is moderately hard, and is

found both on the  growing plant and on the fallen leaves beneath it, in the shape of

small, round, white or greyish grains. It is this last which is the manna of commerce.

The Biblical manna cannot be identified with either of these two substances. In some

points it resembled the one, in other points the other; in some, it differed from both.

It came out of the air like the airhoney,” and did not exude from shrubs; but it was

hard, like the manna of commerce, and could be “ground in mills” and “beaten in

mortars,” which the “air-honey” cannot. It was not a medicament, like the one, nor

a condiment, like the other, but a substance suited to be a substitute for bread, and

to become the main sustenance of the Israelitish people. It was produced in quantities

far exceeding anything that is recorded of either manna proper, or air honey. It

accompanied the Israelites wherever they went during the space of forty years,

whereas the natural substances, which in certain points resemble it, are confined

to certain districts, and to certain seasons of the year. During the whole space of forty

years it fell regularly during six consecutive days, and then ceased on the seventh. It

“bred worms” if kept till the morrow on all days of the week except one; on that one

— the Sabbath — it bred no worms, but was sweet and good. Thus, it must be

regarded as a peculiar substance, miraculously created for a special purpose, but

similar in certain respects to certain known substances which are still produced in

the Sinaitic region. 


15 “And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It

is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them,

This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.”  And when

the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna - Rather, “this

is a gift.”  Not knowing what to call the substance, the Israelites said one to another,

“it is a gift” — meaning a gift from heaven, God’s gift (compare v. 8); and afterwards,

in consequence of this, the word man (properly “gift”) became the accepted name of

the thing – “for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them,  This is the

bread which the LORD hath given you to eat. 



The Provision of the Manna (vs. 1-15)


This chapter contains an account of the first provision of miraculous bread

for Israel in the wilderness. We are told very fully the circumstances in

which it was given and the regulations for obtaining and using it. This

provision of bread comes very appropriately after the visits to Marah and

Elim. The waters had been made sure, and were soon to be made sure

again (ch. 17.); and now the bread is given (Isaiah 33:16). Before God

takes the people to Sinai, He does everything to show that they may

confidently depend on him for necessities, however vainly they look for

excesses. Consider:



PRECEDED THIS GIFT. It is important to notice that such an ample,

gracious and miraculous gift as Jehovah here bestowed was bestowed on

the unthankful and the evil. With many reasons for faith, they were

unbelieving; instead of being patient and submissive, considerate towards

their leader, and thankful for liberty, they broke out into selfish and unjust

complaints. Things were going far otherwise than as they wanted them to

go. They have now been a month or more out of Egypt and it is

wilderness, wilderness, wilderness still! They have got water, but what is

water without bread; and what is bread, unless it be the bread along with

the flesh of Egypt? And, letting their minds dwell on these lost delicacies,

their discontent breaks out in the most expressive way. Discontent is

assuredly at a high pitch in a man’s mind, when he begins to talk of death

as a thing to be desired. It shows that he has got so reckless and peevish as

not to care what he says, what others may think, or who may be hurt by his

random talk. The low ideal of life on the part of Israel is here revealed.

God has delivered a whole nation, and this is their idea of why He has

delivered them. They think a life, from which the flesh pots and the fullness

of bread are absent, is not worth living; and such is indeed a very excusable

conception of life, if hunger and thirst after righteousness have not become

vigorous desires within us. If one is to become a freeman simply to die,

then it seems as if one might just as well live a little longer as a slave. Note

further how the people try to throw the responsibility of their present

position on Moses. It was a consequence of their carnal-mindedness that

they could not think of the Jehovah who was behind and above the visible

leader. They are where they are because Moses has brought them. Thus

they utter an unconscious but weighty and significant testimony to the fact,

that they had not come there of their own accord or wandered there in an

aimless fashion. But for the mighty power that held them fast together,

they might have straggled back to Egypt with its comforts and delights.

Strange that with such a rebellious spirit, there should yet be such a

measure of outward obedience. Evidently they had invisible constraints all

around them, so that they could not help but follow the cloud.



MIND. As He dealt in supplying the water so He deals in supplying the

bread. There was a real and pressing want, and though the people made it

the occasion for foolish talk, it was also to be the occasion for immediate

Divine supply. God does not let the existence of the unthankful and evil

fail, for presently, at Sinai, they will have the chance of learning such things

as may lead them into a thankful, trustful and noble spirit; (So the question

is:  What profit are you getting from a life of God’s mercy and providence?

Jesus said that “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good,

and sends His rain on the just and the unjust.”  Matthew 5:45 – CY – 2017)

and so He hastens to meet Moses with the cheering promise — cheering in the

substance of it, and cheering none the less in the expression — “I will rain

bread from heaven.”


Ø      They shall have bread. He does not yet tell Moses what shape the bread

will take; but the people shall have something to sustain them, and that

something in sufficient quantity.


Ø      The bread shall be rained from heaven. We do not read that Moses

repeated this expression to the Israelites; but it must have been very

cheering to himself. The words “rain” and “heaven” were enough to

put fresh courage into the man. Then we find too that when the promise

came to be fulfilled, these words were not taken in a figurative way.

The manna came with the dew, and when the dew disappeared there

the manna lay, waiting to be gathered. Hence for the supply of bread

the people were to look heavenward; and doubtless Moses himself did

so look. In whatsoever part of the wilderness they might be, however

sterile and unpromising the earth was below, the same heavens

stretched out above them, distilling from their treasuries the daily

manna. The contrast is thus very striking between the varying earth

and the unchanging, exhaustless heaven; and as to the rain, we may

be very sure that when God says, “I will rain,” He means a copious

and adequate shower. But even in this immediate promise

of copious giving Jehovah combines demands with gifts. If there is

great grace, there are great expectations. He gives and at the same time

He asks.  He points out to Moses the manner in which the food was to

be gathered. Though given copiously, it was not therefore given

carelessly; nor was it to be used carelessly. It was given on certain

principles and with certain restrictions, so as to be not only the means

of staying hunger but of disciplining Israel at the same time. In eating

bread, they were to learn habitual faith and habitual and exact

obedience. God is ever showing men how He can make one thing

to serve more purposes than one.



The ugliest sight in the world is one of those thoroughbred loafers,

who would hardly hold up his basin if it were to rain with porridge;

and for certain would never hold up a bigger pot than he wanted filled

for himself. Perhaps, if the shower should turn to beer, he might wake

himself up a bit; but he would make up for it afterwards.  

                                                            (John Plowman)


* “Everyman ought to have patience and pity for poverty, but for laziness a long whip.”

* “A man who wastes his time in sloth offers himself to be a target for the devil, who

    is an awfully good rifleman. In other words, idle men tempt the devil to tempt them.”

*  A sluggard is fine raw material for the devil, he can make anything he likes out of

    him, from a thief up to a murderer.”

* “If the devil catch a man idle he will send him to work [for him], and find him tools.”

* “Idle folks often never know what leisure means, they are always in a hurry and a mess,

    by neglecting to work at the proper time they always have a lot to do.”

* “Trying to insruct an idle man is like trying to hold water in a seive or fatten a


* “Our Lord Jesus told us, the enemy sowed while men slept. It is by the door of

   sluggishness that evil enters the heart more often it seems to me than any other.”

* “My advice to my boys has been to get out of the sluggards way, or you may catch

    his disease and never get rid of it. I am always afraid of their learning the ways of

   the idle and I am very watchful to nip anything of the sort in the bud, for you know

   it is best to kill a lion when it’s a cub”

* “Some professors [of Christianity] are amazingly lazy and make sad work for the

   tongues of the wicked. I think a godly plowmen ought to be the best man in the

   field and let no team beat him. When we are at work, we ought to be at it, and not

   stop the plow to talk, even though the talk may be about religion. For then we not

   only rob our employers of our own time, but of the time of the horses, too. I used

   to hear people say, “Never stop the plow to catch a mouse,” and it’s quite as silly

   to stop for idle chat; besides, the man who loiters when the master is away is an

   eye-server, which, I take it, is the very opposite of a Christian.”

* “Religion never was designed to make us idle. Jesus was a great worker, and

   His disciples must not be afraid of hard work”

* John Ploughman : “For once I was going to give our minister [Spurgeon] a pretty

   long list of the sins of one of our people he was asking after, I began with, “He’s

   dreadfully lazy”, “That’s enough!” said the old gentleman, “all sorts of sins are

   in that one, that’s enough to know a full pledged sinner.”  (C. H. Spurgeon)



PEOPLE (vs. 6-10). Though it is not expressly said that he spoke thus by

Jehovah’s instructions, yet these remonstrances evidently accorded with His

will. For the people to complain as they did was not only an unjust thing to

Moses; it was also a perilous thing for themselves. They could not thus

vent their spleen on the visible Moses without despising the invisible God.

Their insult to their brother man on earth was as nothing compared with

their insult to Jehovah on high. And, indeed, we cannot too much consider

that all murmuring, when it is brought to its ultimate ground and effects,

is a reproach against God. For it is either a complaint because we cannot

get our own way, or it is an impeachment of God’s way as not being a

loving and a wise one. What a different scene life would become, how

much more equable, serene and joyous, if we could only take the invisible

as well as the visible into all our thoughts. The people felt the lack of

bread, the loss of Egypt, the hardships of a life unfamiliar and unprepared

for; and Moses could sympathize with all these feelings; although of

course, after forty years of shepherd life in Midian, the hardships his

brethren complained of were as nothing to him. But at the same time,

Moses felt very keenly what many of his brethren did not feel at all, the

mysterious presence of God. More and more distinctly would the words

now be rising to his mind, “Ye shall serve God upon this mountain”

(ch. 3:12); for the cloud was taking the multitude nearer and nearer to Sinai.

It is very significant of the feeling in Moses’ mind that he dwells on this

charge of murmuring, returning to the word again and again. He wanted

these people who so felt the pangs of hunger to be equally sensitive to the

perils of impiety. Jehovah had heard their reckless speeches as well as

Moses; and now, in recognition, He was about to make manifest His

glorious presence. The connection of the cloud with Himself was to be

proved by the appearing of His glory in it. What the people found fault with

was that they had been guided wrong: and now the nature of the guidance

stands out, distinct, impressive, and full of warning. He who found fault

with Moses really found fault with Jehovah. Remember the words of Jesus:

“He that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth

him that sent me.” (Luke 10:16.) If we presumptuously neglect the

apostleship of any one, we have to do with the Being who made him an

apostle. Wherefore we should show all diligence to keep murmuring off

our lips; and the only effectual way is to keep it out of our hearts by filling

them with a continual sense of the presence of God. Instead of murmuring,

let there be honest shame because of the selfishness that runs riot in our

hearts. God can do everything to make our lives joyous, and banish causes

of complaint for ever, if only we will take right and sufficient views of His

purposes toward us and His claims upon us.


  • THE ACTUAL GIVING. Here again we notice the tender and gentle

dealings of God. The necessary and permanent supply of bread is preceded

by a special and occasional supply of quails. By this gift He, as it were, runs

towards Israel to soothe their murmurings. The flesh of Egypt was the

thing they missed the most, and it comes first, in the evening; whereas the

manna did not come till the next morning. By this supply of the quails God

showed an attentiveness to the feelings of the people which should have

had the best effect on their minds. They murmured against Moses, forgot

Jehovah, and yet Jehovah gave them in reply a delightful feast of quails.

So to speak, He was heaping coals of fire on their heads: and we should take

special note of this Divine conduct, just in this particular place. It is very

natural that as we consider Israel in the wilderness, we should think of

God’s severity rather than any other feature of His character. The whole

tenor of the New Testament — the contrast between the law and the

gospel — makes this view inevitable. But as we read the whole of this

chapter, and ponder it carefully, how shall we do other than confess

“Verily, Jehovah is love”? It is love that leads to Sinai. And assuredly there

is not less of love in the thunders, lightnings and terrors of Sinai than in the

gift of the quails. The expression is different — that is all. The quails were

but a slight, passing thing, bestowed upon Israel much as a toy is bestowed

on a child. There is love in the gift of a toy; but there is love also in the

discipline and chastisement which soon may follow from the same hand. So

there was love in the quails; but there was equal love, stretching out to far

deeper results, in the demonstrations of Sinai and the commandments

which accompanied them.



Christ the Bread from Heaven (v. 15)


The manna, which is described in v. 4 as “bread from heaven,” was

typical of Christ, who is “the true bread from heaven” — “the bread of

God which cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world”

(John 6:31-34). The connection in John 6 is with the Jews’ demand for

a sign. The interrogators reminded Christ of how their fathers did eat

manna in the desert; as it was written, He gave them bread from heaven to

eat! (Psalm 105:40). The design of Jesus in His reply was, first, to wean

their hearts away from merely carnal expectations in connection with His

appearing, and, secondly, to lead them to see in the gift of manna, as well

as in the miracle He had just performed — the feeding of the multitudes —

some-thing more than the mere supplying of bodily necessities; — to see in

them “signs” (John 6:26 — Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs,”

etc. Revised Version) i.e. types, allegories, suggestive earthly symbols, of

spiritual realities — of what He was in Himself, of the work He came to do, of

the relations in which He stood to perishing men. The manna is thus figured as

“spiritual meat” (I Corinthians 10:3), a type of Christ as the living

bread for the souls of men. Consider in illustration of this analogy:



Israelites were in the desert, where nature, if left to itself, would inevitably

perish. Their supplies of food were exhausted. The whole multitude would

have died of hunger, had not Divine mercy interposed for their relief. The

manna which God gave them literally stood between them and death. In

this circumstance we see one feature imaged in which Christ clearly

appears as the bread of life. When He uses: this language of Himself He

means to tell us, that just as these Israelites under Moses absolutely hung

for any hope of life they had on that food which was miraculously supplied

to them; so does the world hang — hang absolutely — for its life, its

salvation, its eternal well-being ON HIM. It needs eternal life. Its heart craves

for it. It is perishing for want of it. But if it is ever to get it, Christ says, it

must get it through HIM, through receiving Him, through appropriating

what He is, and what He has done for it as Saviour.



There could be no question as to the supernatural character of the supply in

the case of the manna. The Israelites needed to be saved, and God saved

them by a miracle. There was, as it were, a distinct opening of heaven for

their benefit. The hand that fed them came from the unseen. In like manner,

Christ lays emphasis on the fact that He — the bread of life for men — is

“bread from heaven.” The salvation that embodies itself in Him is no

salvation of man’s devising, nor one which, even had the thought of it

entered his mind, man could ever from his own resources have achieved. If

the world is to be saved at all, if it is to be delivered from its woes, if it is

to have eternal life, the Saviour and salvation must come from heaven. Our

hope, as of old, is in God, and IN GOD ONLY!  It is not for us to provide,

but only thankfully to receive, and earnestly to appropriate the salvation. God

gives us the bread from heaven; gives it freely; gives it as bread which no

efforts of our own, however laborious, could have enabled us to procure;

gives it, that is, as a Divine, supernatural bread, the boon of sovereign




was given in abundance. There was neither lack nor stint. The table that

was spread in the wilderness was one of royal bounty; as in the later

miracle of the loaves, “they did all eat, and were filled” (Matthew 14:20).

There was, as in the father’s house in the parable, “Enough and to

spare” (Luke 15:17), overflowing provision. How significant a fact

when the heart is putting to itself the question, Will Christ’s death avail for

me? He calls Himself “the true bread which cometh down from heaven;”

and it cannot be but that this feature in the type will be reflected in the


He gives His flesh for the life of the world John 6:51). He is come that men

“might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

No stint, no lack, no scarcity in the salvation of Christ.



APPROPRIATED. It was nothing to the Israelites that the manna,

sparkling like pearls in the morning sunshine, lay all around them; they

must gather, they must eat, they must make the “bread from heaven” food

for their own life. So with Christ and His salvation. He calls Himself

“bread,” to bring out strongly, not only what He is in Himself in relation to

human wants, but what men must do with Him, if they would partake in the

life He comes to give. He must be received, “eaten,” inwardly appropriated,

fed upon, made part, so to speak, of our very selves; only thus will the new

life be begotten in us. This “eating” of Christ is parallel with the “believing”

of other verses (vs. 29, 40, 47). Some, remembering this, may be

disposed to say, it is only believing. But the use of such a metaphor should

rather teach us how real, and inward, and appropriating a principle, this

believing on Jesus is. It is clearly no slight, transitory act of mind or heart

which is denoted by it, but a most spiritual, most inward, most vital and

personal energy of appropriation; a process of reception, digestion, and

transformation into spiritual substance, and new powers of spiritual life, of

what we have in the Saviour. HOW GREAT CHRIST MUST BE, who thus

declares Himself to be the bread of life for the whole world — the support

and food (consciously or unconsciously) of all the spiritual life there is in it!

No wonder that the work of works which God requires of us is that we

believe on Him whom He has sent (John 6:29).



WORLD’S BREAD OF LIFE. We set aside as unsupported the analogies

which some have sought between the roundness, sweetness, whiteness,

etc., of the manna, and qualities in the person and work of the Redeemer.

It is, however, clear that if Christ is the antitype of the manna, and the true

bread which cometh down from heaven, it must be in virtue of certain

qualities in Him which admit of being specified. And what these are, it is

not difficult to show. HE IS THE BREAD OF LIFE TO MEN:


Ø      As incarnate God. In the humanity of Jesus Christ, the Divine is brought

near to us, and made apprehensible, and provision is also made for the

communication of the Divine life in its fullest, richest form to our souls. In

Him dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). He is

the medium of the communication of that Divine fullness to us (John

1:16). In Him, the Divine life is embodied in a holy, perfect humanity; and

in that form — a form which brings it within our reach, which makes

apprehension and assimilation possible it is presented to us TO BE



Ø      As an atoning Saviour. Did Christ not bear this character of Atoner, He

would not be truly bread of life to the guilty. Our guilt, our sin, our whole

moral condition, stands between us and God, an insuperable barrier to the

peace and fellowship for which we crave. But Christ has taken away that

barrier. He has made a sacrifice of Himself for sin (John 6:51). To

appropriate what I have in Christ, is, accordingly, to appropriate to myself:


o        the certainty of forgiveness through His death,

o        the assurance of peace with God, and

o        the knowledge of reconciliation.


And to have done this is already to have begun to live. It is to feel the

awakening within me of new-born powers of love, and trust, and service;

to feel the dread and despair that before possessed me vanishing like a dark

nightmare from my spirit, to be replaced by the joy of pardon, and the sense

of the Divine favor. It is to realize the accomplishment of that spiritual change

which the Scriptures describe as a “passing from death unto life” (John 5:24).

“Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”

(II Corinthians 5:17).


Ø      As a life-giving Spirit. Jesus is what He is to man, in virtue of His

possession of the holy, life-giving Spirit — the personal Holy Ghost

by whom He dwells in the hearts of His people, and through whom He

communicates to them all the fullness of His own life. This operation of the

Spirit is already implied in what we have said of the results of faith in Him.

He is the effectual agent in:


o        converting,

o        quickening,

o        enlightening,

o        sanctifying,

o        comforting,

o        strengthening,

o        beautifying, and spiritually edifying


the souls of such as attain to salvation. The influences of this Spirit in the

soul are but another name for eternal life. And Christ is the giver of this

Spirit. It is from Him the Spirit comes. His work on earth has opened the

way for the free communication of the Spirit’s influences. He dwells by this

Spirit in each of His members, nourishing, strengthening, and purifying

them. To nourish ourselves upon Christ is to take more of this Spirit into

our hearts and lives. Thus is CHRIST THE BREAD OF LIFE!


16 “This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man

according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of

your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.”

This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man

according to his eating, an omer for every man,  According to Kalisch, the omer

is about two quarts (English): but this estimate is probably in excess.  Josephus

makes the measure one equal to six cotyles, which would be about a  quart and a

half, or three pints – according to the number of your persons; take ye

every man for them which are in his tents.  Rather, “in his tent.”




The Gift of Manna (vs. 4-16)


Quails also were given, on this occasion in mercy, and on a later occasion

in wrath (Numbers 11:31-34); but it was the manna which was the

principal gift, both as providing Israel with a continuous supply of food,

and as having a permanent significance in the history of God’s dealings

with his Church (vs. 32-35).


  • THE MANNA PROMISED (vs. 4-9).


Ø      God would rain bread from heaven for them (v. 4). He would spread a

table for them, even in the wilderness, a thing they had deemed impossible

(Psalm 78:19). He would give them to eat of “the corn of heaven”

(ibid. v. 24). He would thus display Himself as Jehovah, — the God

of exhaustless resources, — able and willing to supply all their need

(compare Philippians 4:19). He would remove from Himself the reproach

wherewith they had reproached Him, that He had brought them into the

wilderness, “to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (v. 3). He would

testify of His loving care for them (compare Deuteronomy 1:31).


Ø      The supply would be continuous“Every day” (v. 4). The regularity

of the supply would be a daily proof of God’s faithfulness — another of the

Jehovah attributes. We have a similar proof of the Divine faithfulness in the

constancy of the laws of nature on which our own supplies of food depend;

in particular, in the regular succession of seed-time and harvest, and cold

and heat, and summer and winter, which God has promised to maintain

(Genesis 8:22; compare Psalm 119:89-92).


Ø      The gift of quails and manna would be a manifestation of His glory as

Jehovah (vs. 6-7; also v. 12 — “and ye shall know that I am Jehovah

your God”). His Jehovah character would be revealed in it. Note, in

addition to what is said above, the following illustrations of this.


o        The gift of manna was an act of free origination. Compare with Christ’s

multiplication of the loaves, brought in John 6 into close association

with this miracle.


o        So far as natural materials were utilized in the production of the manna

(dew, etc.), it was shown how absolutely plastic nature was in the hands

of its Creator.


o        The gift of quails was a further testimony to God’s supreme rule in



o        It was a special feature in this transaction that God was seen in it acting

solely from Himselffinding the law and reason of what He did in

HIMSELF ALONE! He interposes with a simple “I will” (v. 4). It was

neither the people’s merits nor the people’s prayers, which moved Him

to give the manna. Merits they had none; prayers they did not offer.

But God, who brought them out of Egypt, and had bound Himself by

covenant with their fathers, found a reason in Himself for helping them,

when He could find none in them (compare Deuteronomy 9:4-5). He

showed them this kindness for His own name’s sake (compare

Psalm 106:8); because HE WAS JEHOVAH, WHO CHANGED

NOT!   (Malachi 3:6).


Ø      The gift of manna would prove a trial of obedience (v. 4). God bound

Himself to send the manna day by day, and this would be a test of His

faithfulness. But rules would be prescribed to the people for gathering the

manna, and this would be a test of their obedience. God’s design in giving

the manna was thus not merely to supply the people’s natural wants. He

would also train them to dependence. He would test their characters. He

would endeavor to form them to habits of obedience. A like educative and

disciplinary purpose is to be recognized as bound up with all God’s leading

of us. Gifts are at the same time trusts. They impose duties upon us, and

lay us under responsibilities. There are rules to be observed in the use of

them which test our inner dispositions. There is a law of temperance in the

use of food. There is a law of modesty in dress. There are the laws relating

to the acquisition and expenditure of money — honesty in acquisition,,

economy in use, liberality in giving (compare Deuteronomy 15:7-12),

devotion of the first fruits of income to God. There is the supreme law,

which includes all others — “Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink, or

whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).

There is no action, no occupation, however seemingly trivial, which has

not important relations to the formation of character. “The daily round, the

common task,” etc.


  • THE PREPARATORY THEOPHANY (vs. 9-13). Moses summoned

the people to draw near before the Lord. Then, as they came together, and

looked toward the wilderness, lo! “the glory of the Lord appeared in the

cloud.” It is a suggestive circumstance that it is Aaron, who by command

of Moses, collects the congregation (v. 10). Moses, according to his

wont, had probably withdrawn to pray (compare ch.14:15). In this, as in

other instances, Moses might be taken as an example of secrecy in prayer.

His prayers are never paraded. They are even studiously kept in the

background — a proof surely of the Mosaic authorship of the book. When

they come to light, it is often incidentally (ibid.). On one notable occasion an

intercessory prayer of his was not made known till near the end of his life

(Deuteronomy 9:25). We know of his prayers mostly by their results. This

appearance of the glory of God to Israel may be viewed:


Ø      As a rebuke of the people’s murmurings. Unlike the “look” from the

pillar of fire with which the Lord discomfited the Egyptians (ch. 14:24),

it was a look with as much mercy as anger in it. Yet it conveyed

reproof. It may be compared with the theophany which terminated the

dispute between Job and his friends, and caused the patriarch to abhor

himself, and to repent in dust and ashes (Job 38:1; 42:6); or to the look

of sorrow and reproof which the Lord cast on Peter, which caused him to

go out, and weep bitterly (Matthew 26:75). How abashed, humbled,

and full of fear, those murmurers would now be, as with mouths stopped

(Romans 3:19), they beheld that terrible glory forming itself in the

cloud, and looking down full upon them!


Ø      As a fitting introduction to the miracle that was to follow. It gave

impressiveness to the announcement — showed indubitably the source of

the miraculous supply — roused the minds of the people to a high pitch of

expectation — prepared them for something grand and exceptional in the

Divine procedure. It thus checked their murmurings, convinced them of

their sin in distrusting God, warned them of the danger of further rebellion,

and brought them back to their obedience. God’s words“I have heard

the murmurings of the children of Israel— at the same time reminded

them that he was fully aware of all their “hard speeches” which they had

spoken against Him.  (Jude 1:15)


Ø      As an anticipation of the revelation of Sinai. These chapters are full of

anticipations. In ch.15:25-26, we have “statute and an ordinance,”

anticipatory of the later Sinaitic covenant; in this chapter, we

have an anticipation of Sinai glory and also of the sabbath law (v. 23); in

ch. 18:16, we have an anticipation of the civil code of Sinai; for

Moses makes the people “know the statutes of God, and His laws.”


  • THE MANNA GIVEN (vs. 13-16). Quails came in the evening, and

next morning the manna fell with the dew. We observe concerning it:


Ø      That it came in a not unfamiliar form. The “angel’s food” (Psalm

78:25), wore the dress, and had the taste of the ordinary manna of the

desert. We miss in the miracles of the Bible the grotesque and bizarre

features which mark the supernatural stories of other books. They testify to

the existence, as well as respect the laws, of an established natural order.

The plagues of Egypt, e.g., were thoroughly true to the natural phenomena

of that country, and made the largest possible use of existing agencies. The

crossing of the Red Sea was accomplished by the supernatural employment

of natural conditions and agencies. There is in all these miracles the

constant observance of the two laws of:


o        economy — utilizing the natural so far as it will go; and

o        congruity — keeping as closely as possible to the type of the natural,

even when originating supernatural phenomena.


Ø      That it was a direct production of the power of God. It was in the truest

sense bread from heaven, and is thus a type of Christ, the Bread of Life

(see below). Yet the power exerted in the creation of the manna — and it

is important to remember this — is but the same power, only more visibly

put forth, which operates still in nature, giving us our yearly supplies of the

good things of the earth. The annual harvest is only not a miracle, because

it comes regularly, season after season, and because numerous secondary

agencies are employed in its production. You plough, that is, break up the

ground to receive the seed; but whence came the seed? From last year’s

gift. You sow it in the fields, cover it up again and leave it — to whose

care? To God’s.   (“cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and

rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he

knoweth not how!”  - Mark 4:26-27 – CY – 2017)  It is He who now takes

the matter into His own hands, and in what remains you can but wait upon

His will. It rests with Him to send His rains or to withhold them; to order

the sunshine and heat; to bless or blast your harvest. What man does is but

to put matters in train for God’s working — God Himself does the rest; in the

swelling and germination of the seed, in all the stages of its growth, in the

formation of the blade, in the modeling of the ear, in the filling of it with

the rich ripe grain, His power is absolutely, and all throughout, THE

ONLY POWER AT WORK!  And how great the gift is when it comes!

It is literally God opening His hand and putting into ours the food

necessary for our sustenance. (Psalm 104:27-31; 145:16)  But for that gift,

year by year renewed, man and beast would utterly perish. (Consider the

value of a year’s produce in the United States today - $51,000,500, 000 –

51.5 billion in 2016)  It is as if God had made a direct gift of that sum

of money to our nation in the year named, only it was given in a better

than money form — in food, but the surplus is so great that it is


LAND OF MILK AND HONEY.  (How are we showing our appreciation?

by arguing on the Lord’s Day and throughout the week over some real

or imagined slight converted into an exhibition of someone standing or

kneeling at a sporting event? the timing of which seems purposely

scheduled to conflict with the Church of Jesus Christ’s  regular services –

i.e.  the Super Bowl – and to compete for and undermine the murmuring

fickle spiritual soul of America! –  CY – 2017)



Below is a list of goods God delivers and THAT




oats                                          Raspberries

wheat                                      Papayas

corn                                         Peaches

sorghum                                  Pears

Artichokes                               Plums

asparagus                                 Prunes

Beans                                      Pineapple

Broccoli                                   Almonds

Cabbage                                  Hazelnuts

Cantaloupes                            Walnuts 

Celery                                      Macadamian

Corn, sweet                             Pistachios

Cucumbers                              Pecans   

Garlic                                      Millet

Honeydews                             Rice

Olives                                      canola

Lettuce                                    cotton

Onions                         flax

Peppers                                    peanuts

Pumpkins                                soybeans

Squash                         sunflowers       (Crop Values 2016 Summary

Spinach                                   mustard              February 2017 – taken from

Tomatoes                                 sugar cane          USDA National Agricultural

Watermelons                           beets                    Statistics Service)

Grapefruit                               lentils

 Lemons                                  chickpeas

 Oranges                                  potatoes

 Tangelos                                 maple syrup

 Tangerines                              mushrooms

 Mandarins                              sweet potatoes

 Apples                                    taro

Apricots                                  peppermint

 Avocados                               spearmint

 Bananas                                  barley

 Blackberries                           $13,360,998,000 – Commerical Vegetables - 2016

Blueberries                                51,703,698,000 – Corn - 2016

 Boysenberries                             1,351,427,000  -  Sorghum - 2016

Cherries,                                         151,335,000 – Oats - 2016

 Coffee                                           942,180,000 – Barley - 2016

 Cranberries                                 9,104,215,000 -  Wheat - 2016

 Dates                                        23,708,845,000 – Rice - 2016

 Figs                                                 33,689,000 – Millet - 2016

 Grapes                                             69,237,000 – Rye - 2016

 Guavas                                       1,077,480,000 – Peanuts - 2016

 Kiwifruit                                  40,943,775,000 – Soybeans - 2016

 Nectarines                  You Get the Picture!  God’s Goodness to the USA


How little we think of it! Men are proud and self-sufficient, and speak

sometimes as if they would almost disdain to accept or acknowledge a

favor from the Almighty. While yet, in truth, they are, like others,

THE VERIEST PENSIONERS  on His bounty, sustained by His power,

seeing by His light, warmed by His sun, and fed year by year by the crumbs

that fall from His table. Were God for a single year to break the staff of

bread over the whole earth, where would either it or they be?


Ø      That it was given day by day, and with regularity.  (The Lord’s “compassions

fail not.  They are new every morning”  Great is His faithfulness!  Lamentations

3:22-23; – CY – 2017)  Thus the manna taught a daily lesson of dependence

on God, and so played an important part in the spiritual education of Israel.

Yet familiarity must have done much then, as it does still, to deaden the

impression of God’s hand in the daily gift. Because the manna came to them,

not by fits and starts, but regularly; because there was a “law” in its coming —

they would get to look on it as quite a common occurrence, no more to be

wondered at than the rising and setting of the sun, or any other sequence in

nature. “Laws of nature” tend, in precisely the same way, to blind us to the

agency of God working behind and in them, as well as to hide from us His

agency in the origination of the sequences that now flow so uniformly. We

have spoken of God’s agency in the production of the harvest. But there

is good ground for speaking of our cereal crops as in yet another sense —

“bread from heaven.” These cereal plants, it is affirmed, are never found in

a wild state; cannot by any known process be developed from plants in a

wild state; and if once allowed to degenerate, can never again be reclaimed

for human food. Not inaptly, therefore, have they been represented as even

now a kind of standing miracle — a proof of direct creative interposition

for the good of man. (See “The Cerealia: a Standing Miracle,” by Professor

Harvey, in “Good Words,” vol. 2.) Yet how entirely is this retied from us

by the fact that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the

creation” (II Peter 3:4).


Ø      That it was a food entirely suitable to the circumstances of the

Israelites. It was light, nutritious, palatable; comprised variety by admitting

of being prepared in different ways (baked, seethed, v. 23; compare

Numbers 11:8); was abundant in quantity, readily distinguishable by the

eye, and being of a granulated nature, and strewn thickly throughout all the

camp, could be collected with a very moderate expenditure of labor. It

was thus, like so much in our own surroundings, and in the provision

which God makes for our wants, a constant witness to the care, goodness,

wisdom, and forethought of the great Giver.


17“And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.”

And the children of Israel did so” - The Israelites set themselves to obey Moses,

and gathered what they supposed to be about an omer; but, as a matter of course,

some of them exceeded the amount, while others fell short of it. There was no

willful disobedience thus far – and gathered, some more, some



18 “And when they did mete it 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.”  On returning to their tents, with the manna which they had collected,

the Israelites proceeded to measure it with their own, or a neighbor’s, omer measure,

when the wonderful result appeared, that, whatever the quantity actually gathered by

any one, the result of the measurement showed, exactly as many omers as there were

persons in the family. Thus,he that had gathered much found that he had nothing

over, and he that had gathered little found that he had no lack 



Bread from Heaven (vs. 14-18)


Our Lord tells us that the manna was a type of Him, and that He was the “true bread

from heaven” (John 6:32). We may profitably consider, in what respects the type held




OF THE SOUL. The manna constituted almost the sole nourishment of the

            Israelites from this time forth until they entered Canaan (Joshua 5:12).

            So Christ is the food of the soul during its entire pilgrimage through the

            wilderness of this world, until it reaches the true Canaan, heaven. The

            Israelites were in danger of perishing for lack of food — they murmured —

            and God gave them the manna. The world was perishing for lack of

            spiritual nourishment — it made a continual dumb complaint — and God

            heard, and gave His own Son from heaven. Christ came into the world, not

            only to teach it, and redeem it, but to be its “spiritual food and

            sustenance.” He feeds us with the bread of life. He gives us His own self for

            nourishment. Nothing else can truly sustain and support the soul — not

            creeds, not sacraments, not even His own Word without Him.  (John 6:53)***




WORLD.  The manna fell all around the camp of Israel, close to them, so that

they had but to stretch out the hand and take it. None could lack sufficient

sustenance except by his own fault. If he refused to gather, he might starve;

but not otherwise. So Christ gave Himself for all men, “not willing that any

should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9) 

His was “a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole

world.” Even they who know Him not may be saved by Him, “if they will

do the works of the law written in their hearts,” (Romans 2:15) or, in

other words, act up to the light that has been vouchsafed them. Thus,

His salvation is free, and open to all. In Christian lands it is close to all,

made palpable to all, shown them openly, daily pressed upon them.            

            (Romans 10:6-13)***  - He who starves here in America can scarcely starve

save by his own fault — because he will not stretch out his hand to gather

of the bread of life, will not take it when it is offered to him, rejects it,

despises it, “loathes” it.



            PURE AND SPOTLESS, AND SWEET TO THE SOUL. A master mind

            of these modern times has made his hero, a well-disposed heathen, see in

            Christ, even before he could bring himself to believe in him, “the WHITE

            Christ.” “Holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” (Hebrews

            7:26) - He presents Himself to all who will read His life, and contemplate His       

            character, as pure, stainless, innocent. The Lamb is His fitting emblem. Driven    

            snow is not purer or more speckless. “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no        

            spot in thee” (Song of Solomon 4:7). And He is sweet also. “Thy lips, O my

            spouse, drop as the honeycomb; honey and milk are under thy tongue” (ib,

            v. 11). “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey

            unto my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103). His words, His life, His promises,

            His influence, His presence, are all sweet, especially the last. Let those who

            know Him not, once “taste and see how gracious the Lord is,” (Psalm 34:8)

            and they will desire no other nourishment.



            to us, not “with observation” (Luke 17:20) — not in the wind, or in the fire,

            or in the earthquake, but in silence and in quietude, when other voices are

            hushed within us and about us, when we sit and watch, in patience possessing

            our souls. (Luke 21:19) - His doctrine drops as the rain, and His peace distils as     

            the dew. It comes down “like the rain into a fleece of wool, even as the drops        

            that water the earth.” In the whirl of passion, in the giddy excitement of

            pleasure, in the active bustle of business, there is no room for Christ, no fit

            place for His presence. Christ comes to the soul when it is calm and

            tranquil, when it waits for Him, and believing in His promise that He will

            come, is at rest.



      GATHERED MELTED AWAY.Remember thy Creator in the days of

            thy youth.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1) - Unless we will seek Christ early, we have no       

            warrant to expect that He will condescend to be found of us. If we slight Him, if

            we dally with the world, if we put off seeking Him till a “more convenient          

            season,” (Acts 24:25) we may find, when we wake up from our foolish       

            negligence, that He has withdrawn Himself, has (as it were) melted away. If an    

            Israelite put off his gathering of the manna until the sun was hot, he obtained        

            nothing — the manna no longer lay ready to his hand. So with the Christian who  

            is slothful, self-indulgent, careless — when, after long neglect, he at length

            seeks spiritual food, he may find it too late, the opportunity may be irrevocably     



19 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.”  Moses, divinely

instructed, warned the people that they were not to lay up in store any of

their manna to be eaten the next day. God would have them trust their

future wants to Him, and “take no thought for the morrow.” (Matthew 6:34)

Some of them, however, were disobedient, with the result stated in the next verse.


20 “Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them

left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was

wroth with them.”  it bred worms  - This was a supernatural, not a natural result. 

It served as a sort  of punishment of the disobedient, and effectually checked the

practice of laying up in store – and Moses was wroth with them. 




God’s Curse on Ill-Gotten Gain (vs. 19-20)


In order to try the Israelites, whether they would be obedient to him or no (v. 4), God

gave them, by the mouth of Moses, a positive law — “Let no man leave of the manna

till the morning.” By some the law was disobeyed. Disregarding the Divine command

— perhaps distrusting the Divine promise (v. 4), to give them food day by day, a certain

number of the Israelites, kept some of the manna till the morning. They wished to have

a store laid up, on which they might subsist, should the daily supply fail. But God

would not be disobeyed with impunity. His curse was on the ill-gotten gain —

it bred worms and stank” becoming a source of annoyance both to themselves

and their neighbors. So, God’s curse is ever on ill-gotten gains:



      Some provision for the future is required of us. “Go to the ant, thou

            sluggard,” says the wise man, “consider her ways, and be wise.” (Proverbs

            6:6) - “He that doth not provide for them of his own household,” Paul   

            declares, “is worse than an infidel.” (I Timothy 5:8) - Prudence is a Christian,

            no less than a heathen virtue. But to hoard everything, to give nothing away, to    

            make the accumulation of wealth our main object, is to fly in the face of a

            hundred plain precepts, and necessarily brings God’s curse upon us. (see Luke

            12:16-21) - The wealth rots — the concerns wherein it is invested fail — it            

            disappears and is brought to nought — and all our careful saving advantages us

            nothing. God vindicates His own honor; and disperses or destroys the hoard         

            accumulated contrary to His will.



      COMMAND. There are some who, in their haste to be rich, disregard the

      Divine injunction to keep holy one day in seven, and pursue their secular

      calling without any intermission. Conveyancers draw out their

            deeds, barristers study their briefs, business men balance their books,

            authors ply their pens, as busily on the Sunday as on week days. What

            blessing can be expected on the gains thus made? Is it not likely that they

            will breed corruption? Still more wholly under a curse are gains made by

            unlawful trades or dishonest practices — by the false weight or the scant

            measure, or the adulterated article — or again by usurious lending, by

            gaming, by brothel-keeping.



      GOD’S PROMISES. (Is this not a reference to the tithe? See Malachi

3:8-12 – CY – 2017)  God bids us not to be anxious for the morrow, what

            we shall eat, or what we shall drink, or what we shall put on (Matthew

            6:31) — and promises that, if we will “seek first the kingdom of God and

            His righteousness, all these things shall be added unto us” (ibid. v. 33). He

            caused David to declare — “I have been young and now am old, yet

            saw I never the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread.”

            (Psalm 37:25) – If men hoard in distrust of these gracious words, not believing     

            that God will make them good, and thinking to assure the future of wife or

            child, or both, by their own accumulations, they provoke God to bring their

            accumulations to nothing. Riches, however invested, can make themselves

            wings and disappear, if God’s blessing does not rest on their possessor.

            (I personally believe that if a person will not tithe, that he does not believe

            that God will provide for him, so that he must take care of himself. – CY –



21 “And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating:

and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.”  The manna had to be

gathered early. What had not been collected before the sun grew hot,

melted away and disappeared from sight. In this respect the miraculous

manna resembled both the manna of commerce and the “air-honey.”



                                                God and Nature (vs. 9-21)



NATURE’S SERVANT.  A school of modern thought places nature above

God, or at, any rate on a par with God.  It is an absolute impossibility, we are

told, that a law of nature should be broken or suspended. Miracles are

incredible. But all this, it must be borne in mind, is mere assertion,

and assertion without a tittle of proof. All that we can know is, that we

ourselves have never witnessed a miracle. We may further believe, that

none of our contemporaries have witnessed any. But that miracles have

never taken place, we cannot know.  There is abundant testimony

in the records of humanity that they have. To say that they are impossible,

is to assume that we know the exact relation of God to nature, and that

that relation is such as to preclude any infraction or suspension of a natural

law. (I recommend Genesis 17 – EL SHADDAI – The Names of God by

Nathan Stone – this web site – CY – 2010)  So far from nature being

independent of God, nature wholly proceeds from God, is His creation,

and momentarily depends on Him both for its existence and its laws. Its laws

are simply the laws which He imposes on it; the rules which He sees fit under

ordinary circumstances to lay down and maintain. And He has nowhere bound

Himself to maintain all His laws perpetually without change. He will not, we

may be sure, capriciously or without grave cause, change or suspend a law,

because HE IS HIMSELF IMMUATABLE and “without shadow of turning.”

(James 1:17)  But, like a wise monarch, or a wise master of a household, He

will make exceptions under exceptional circumstances.  And thus it was at this

time. Israel was brought out of Egypt — was promised Canaan — but required

a prolonged course of training to be rendered fit for its promised inheritance.

Geographically, Canaan could only be reached through the wilderness; and so

the wilderness was the necessary scene of Israel’s education. How then was

the nation to be supported during the interval? Naturally the wilderness

produced only a scanty subsistence for a few thousand nomads. How was

it to support two millions of souls? There was no way but by miracle. Here

then was a “dignus vindice nodus,” — a fitting occasion for the exertion of

supernatural power — and God gave by miracle the supply of which His

people had need.




The Israelites needed, or at any rate craved for flesh. God did not create for

them new animals,  as He might have done (Genesis 1:25), or even give them

meat by any strange and unknown phenomenon. He brought a timely flight of

quails — a migratory bird, in the habit of visiting Arabia at the time of year —

and made them alight exactly where the camp was fixed, in too exhausted

a condition to fly further — a phenomenon not at all unusual at the particular

season and in the particular country. The Israelites needed bread, or some

substitute for it. God gave them manna — not a wholly new and unknown

substance, but a modification of known substance. He made previously

existing nature His basis, altering and adding qualities, greatly augmenting

the quantity, but not exerting more supernatural power than was necessary,

or departing further from the established course of nature than the occasion

required. The same “economy” is seen in the sweetening of the waters of

Marah by the wood of a particular tree (ch. 15:25). The method of God’s

supernatural working is to supplement, not contradict, nature.




The Gathering of the Sixth Day (vs. 22-30)


When the Israelites, having collected what seemed to them the usual quantity of

manna on the sixth day, brought it home and measured it, they found the yield to be,

not an omer a head for each member of the family, but two omers. The result was

a surprise and a difficulty. They could not consume more than an omer a piece.

What was to be done with the remainder? Was it to be destroyed, or kept? If kept,

would it not “breed worms”?  To resolve their doubts, the elders brought the matter

before Moses, who replied: “This is that which the Lord hath said.” It is to be

supposed that, in his original announcement to the elders of God’s purposes as to

the manna, Moses had informed them that the quantity would be double on the sixth

day (v. 5); but his statement had not made any deep impression at the time, and now

they had forgotten it. So he recalls it to their recollection. “This is no strange thing —

 nothing that should have surprised you — it is only what God said would happen.

And the reason of it is, that tomorrow, the seventh day is, by God’s ordinance,

the rest of the Holy Sabbath,” — or rather “a rest of a holy Sabbath to the Lord.” 

Whether or no the Sabbath was a primeval institution, given to our first parents in

Paradise (Genesis 2:3), may be doubted: at any rate, it had not been maintained as

an institution by the Hebrews during their sojourn in Egypt; and this was, practically,

to them, the first promulgation of it.  Hence, in the original, it is not called

“the sabbath,” as if already known, but “a sabbath,” i.e., a rest — until v. 29.


22 “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.  23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD

hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake

that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which

remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.”  This is that

which the Lord hath said. Rather, “said,” i.e., declared to me when He announced

the manna. See v. 5. It has been supposed that Moses had not communicated the

declaration to the elders;  but this seems unlikely. The rest of the holy sabbath.

If this translation were correct, the previous institution of the sabbath, and the

knowledge of its obligation by the Hebrews, would follow; but the absence of

the article is a strong indication that the whole idea was new, at any rate to those

whom Moses was addressing. Bake that which ye will bake, etc. “Do,”

i.e., “as you have done on other days — bake some and seethe some

but also reserve a portion to be your food and sustenance to-morrow.”




The Law of the Manna (vs. 16-22)


God had said (v. 4) that rules would be given in connection with the

manna by which the people would be proved, whether they would walk in

His law, or no. One rule is given in v. 5, and the rest are given here.



  • THE LAW AS TO QUANTITY (vs. 16-18). “According to his

eating,” in this passage, means, according to the quantity allowed to each

person for consumption. This was fixed at an omer a head (v. 16). The

simplest way of explaining what follows is to suppose that each individual,

when he went out to gather, aimed, as nearly as possible, at bringing in his

exact omer; but, necessarily, on measuring what had been gathered, it

would be found that some had brought in a little more, some a little less,

than the exact quantity; excess was then to go to balance defect, and the

result would be that, on the whole, each person would receive his omer. It

may be supposed, also, that owing to differences of age, strength, agility,

etc., there would be great room left for one helping another, some

gathering more, to eke out the deficiencies of the less active. If the work

were conscientiously done, the result, even on natural principles, would be

pretty much what is here indicated. The law of averages would lead, over a

large number of cases, to a mean result, midway between excess and

defect, i.e., to the net omer. But a special superintendence of providence

— such, e.g., as that which secures in births, amidst all the inequalities of

families, a right proportion of the sexes in society as a whole — is

evidently pointed to as securing the result. We cannot suppose, however,

that an intentionally indolent or unconscientious person was permitted to

participate in this equal dividend, or to reap, in the way indicated, the

benefit of the labors of others. The law here must have been, as with

Paul, "if any would not work, neither should he eat” (II Thessalonians

3:10). There is nothing said as to the share to be allotted to juveniles: these

may be supposed to have received some recognized proportion of an omer.

The lessons of all this and its importance as a part of the spiritual education

of Israel, are very obvious. It taught:


Ø      That what is of Divine gift is meant for common benefit. The individual

is entitled to his share in it; but he is not entitled selfishly to enrich himself,

while others are in need. He gets that he may give. There was to be a

heavenly communism practiced in respect of the manna, in the same way as

a common property is recognized in light and air, and the other free gifts of

nature. This applies to intellectual and spiritual wealth. We are not to rest

till all have shared in it according to their God-given capacity.


Ø      That in the Church of Christ it is the duty of the stronger to help the

weaker, and of the richer to help the poorer. This is the lesson drawn from

the passage by Paul in II Corinthians 8:12-16. It is presumed in his

teaching, first, that there is the “willing mind,” in which case a gift “is

accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath

not” (v. 12). Each gatherer of the manna was honestly to do his part, and

put what he could into the common stock. The end is not, secondly, that

other men be eased, and the Corinthians burdened (v. 13). But, each

doing what he can, the design is, thirdly, that the abundance of one may be

a supply, for the deficiency of another, that so there may he equality (v. 14).

This is a principle of wide application in Church finance, and also in

the aiding of the poor. Strong congregations should not be slow to aid

weak ones, that the work of the latter may go on more smoothly, and their

ministers may at least be able to subsist comfortably. The Scottish Free

Church has given a praiseworthy illustration of this principle in her noble

“Sustentation Fund.”


Ø      That where a helpful spirit is shown by each towards all, there will be

found no lack of what is needful for any. God will see that all are provided

for. The tendency of the rule is to encourage a friendly, helpful, unselfish

spirit generally, and in all relations. The gatherer of manna was forbidden

to act selfishly. A Nemesis would attend an attempt on the part of any to

appropriate more than his proper share.




Ø      The manna was to be gathered in early morning. The people had to be

up betimes, and had to bestir themselves diligently, that their manna might

be collected before “the sun waxed hot” (v. 21). If not collected then, the

substance melted away, and could not be had at all. A lesson, surely, in the

first instance, of diligence in business; and secondly, of the advantage of

improving morning hours. The most successful gatherer of manna, whether

in the material, intellectual, or spiritual fields, is he who is up and at his

work early. Albert Barnes tells us that all his commentaries were due to

this habit of rising early in the morning, the whole of them having been

written before nine o’clock in the day, and without encroaching on his

proper ministerial duties.


Ø      On six days of the week only (v. 5). God teaches here the lesson of

putting  forward our work on week days, that we may be able to enjoy a


ordinance of the Sabbath itself, by requiring that no work be done upon it.


  • THE LAW AS TO USE (v. 19). None of the manna was to be left

till the morning. We have here again a double lesson.


Ø      A lesson against hoarding. God gave to each person his quantity of

manna; and the individual had no right to more. What excess he had in his

gathering ought to have gone to supplement some other person’s

deficiency. But greed led some of the Israelites to disobey. It would save

them trouble to lay by what they did not need, and use it again next day.

They might make profit out of it by barter. All such attempts God defeated

by ordaining that the manna thus hoarded should breed worms, and grow

corrupt. A significant emblem of the suicidal effects of hoarding generally.

Hoarded treasure is never an ultimate benefit to its possessor. It corrupts

alike in his heart and his hands. It breeds worms of care to him, and

speedily becomes a nuisance (compare Matthew 6:19-20).


Ø      A lesson against distrust. Another motive for laying up the manna would

be to provide for the morrow in case of any failure in the supply. But this

was in direct contradiction to God’s end in giving the people their manna

day by day, viz., to foster trust, and keep alive their sense of dependence

on Him. (I personally believe that one who does not tithe is distrustful

of God's care for him, preferring to take care of himself instead of

relying on God.  CY - 2017)  Christ warns us against the spirit of distrust,

and of anxiety for the morrow, and teaches us to pray for “daily bread”

(Matthew 6:11, 31). We should desire never to be independent of God.



They failed at each point. They tried to hoard (v. 20). They went out to

gather on the Sabbath (v. 27). This showed both disobedience and

unbelief, for it had been distinctly said of the seventh day, “in it there shall

be none” (v. 26). What a lesson!


Ø      Of the sottish insensibility of human nature to God’s great acts of

goodness. God had miraculously supplied their wants, yet so little sensible

were they of His goodness — so little did it influence them — that they

declined to obey even the few simple rules He had laid down for the

reception and use of His benefits.


Ø      Of its ineradicable contumacy and self-will (comare Deuteronomy 9; and

Psalms 78, and 106).


24 “And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink,

neither was there any worm therein.”  They laid it up. The great bulk of the

Israelites obeyed Moses, and laid by a portion (half?) of the manna gathered

on the sixth day. On the morning of the seventh, this was found to be perfectly

good, and not to have “bred worms” in the night. Either this was a miracle, or the

corruption previously noticed (v. 20) was miraculous.


25 “And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD:

to day ye shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on

the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.”  And Moses said.

The Sabbath being come, Moses explained fully the reason for the order which he

had given, and generalized it. God required the Sabbath to be “a day of holy rest”

— no manna would fall on it, and therefore none could be gathered — the produce

of the sixth day’s gathering would be found to suffice both for the sixth day and

the seventh.


27 “And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day

for to gather, and they found none.”  There will always be some persons in a nation,

or in a Church, who will refuse to believe God’s ministers, and even GOD HIMSELF!

They persuade themselves that they “know better” — it will not be as announced — it

will be as they wish it to be. More especially is this so where the idea of continuance

comes in —  where some interruption of the ordinary course of things is announced,

which they deem unlikely or impossible. Compare Genesis 19:14. 


28 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my

commandments and my laws?”  Though Moses is addressed, it is the people who

are blamed. Hence the plural verb, “refuse ye.” Already there had been one act of

disobedience in connection with the manna (v. 20) — now there was another —

when would such sinful folly come to an end? When would the people learn

that they could gain nothing by disobedience? It was “long” indeed before

they were taught the lesson.  


29 “See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he

giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every

man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”

See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath,  therefore He giveth you

on the sixth day the bread of two days” - Consider that God has given you the

Sabbath, or the holy rest: and therefore it is that He gives you on the sixth day

the food for two days — that the rest may not be INTERFERRED WITH!

“abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.


30  “So the people rested on the seventh day.”  Having found by experience that

nothing was to be gained by seeking manna on the sabbath, and having received the

severe rebuke of v. 28, the people henceforth obeyed the new commandment, and

“rested on the sabbath day.” Of the nature of the “rest” intended more will be

said in the comment on ch. 20:8-11.



The Manna and the Sabbath (vs. 22-30)




SABBATH, It would certainly seem from this passage that the Israelites

had not up to this time been very good Sabbath keepers; that if they knew

of any special distinction attaching to the seventh day, they had no very

strict ideas as to its observance; that its sanctity was but little recognized by

them. It could scarcely have been otherwise with a people just escaped

from a long and degrading bondage. It does not follow, however. that this

was the first institution of the Sabbath. There is every reason for believing

the contrary. That God had the Sabbath in view in the arrangements made,

and the laws laid down, about the manna, every one admits. The only

question which arises is, whether these arrangements were modeled on the

basis of a division of time already existing, or whether this was absolutely

the first indication to mankind of a weekly day of rest.


Ø      Presumptively — this latter alternative seems improbable. It is incredible

that so important an institution as the Sabbath should be introduced in

this casual, unannounced way — should be taken for granted in certain

outward arrangements relating to a different matter, and then, when

curiosity has been excited by these arrangements, should be first made

known by the side-door of an explanation of the novel injunctions. Such

a case of the existence of an important institution being assumed before

the law which gives it existence has been either promulgated or heard of,

is without precedent or parallel in history. It seems plain that whether

Israel knew of the existing Sabbath or not, God did, and framed His

arrangements in view of it. The inference is that the religious observance

of the seventh day had been sanctioned by old tradition, but had fallen

largely into disuse.


Ø      On Biblical grounds — it seems certain that the Sabbath is of older date

than the sojourn in the wilderness. We need not review all the evidence

which points in the direction of a primeval institution of the Sabbath. It is

sufficient to instance the primary text upon the subject (Genesis 2:1-4),

which speaks with a voice as plain as could well be wished to those who

are willing to hear.


Ø      Historically — it has been recently proved that the Sabbath was known

in ancient Assyria and Babylonia, long before the days of Moses. No

Orientalist will any longer question, in face of the evidence furnished by

the recently deciphered cuneiform tablets, that a Sabbath was observed in

Assyria in the days of Sardanapalus, and for ages previously. But the

ancient Arcadian records, which go as far back as 2000 B.C., and many

of which have been deciphered by the aid of competent Assyrian

translators, show that a Sabbath was observed in the very earliest time.

The very name “Sabattu,” with the meaning “a day of rest for the heart,”

has been found in the old Arcadian tongue (see “Records of the Past,”

vol. 3. p. 143; “Assyrian Discoveries,” by George Smith; the Academy,

Nov. 1875).  Special points in these researches will need confirmation,

but on the whole, the early and wide-spread observance of the Sabbath

must be held as established. In the light of Oriental discovery, it will

soon be regarded as an anachronism to speak of prolepsis in connection

with Genesis 2:1-4; or to urge the view that the Sabbath is a purely

Judaic institution, and originated with Moses.





SABBATH. It taught:


Ø      That the Sabbath was to be kept free from unnecessary work.

Ø      That in order to leave the Sabbath clear, as a day of rest, work was to be

forwarded on week days.

Ø      That God has a respect for His own ordinance.










MORALS, AND RELIGION. It must be reckoned a noteworthy

circumstance that, in arranging the affairs of Israel, with a view to the

recovery of His people from the low and demoralized condition, physically,

morally, and spiritually, into which they had fallen, and with a view to their

elevation to a state of prosperous national existence, God’s first step, even

before the law was given from Sinai, was to put on a proper foundation,

the observance of the Sabbath.





(vs. 27-29). The thing chiefly condemned, no doubt, was the spirit of

disobedience, which showed itself in more ways than one (compare v. 20).

But is it not plainly reckoned a special aggravation of the offence of these

would-be gatherers, that they so defiantly set at naught God’s ordinance of

a day of rest?




The Institution of the Sabbath (vs. 23-30)



That, in some sense, the Sabbath was instituted in Paradise seems to follow from  

Genesis 2:3. It was at any rate then set apart by Divine counsel and decree. And it is

quite possible that a revelation of its sanctity was made to Adam. The week of seven

days may, however, have arisen simply out of the lunar month, the four weeks

corresponding to the moon’s four phases. In any case, as the early Egyptians had no

such institution as a weekly sabbath, and certainly would not have tolerated abstinence

from work on the part of their Hebrew slaves one day in seven, (AS MANY MODERN

EMPLOYERS DEEM – CY – 2010) we must suppose that the sabbatical rest, if ever

known to the Hebrews, had fallen into desuetude during their Egyptian sojourn. God

now formally either instituted or re-instituted it. He seized the occasion of giving the

manna, to mark in the strongest way, and impress upon the people, the strict

observance of a sabbatical rest, which forty years’ experience would engrain into

the habits of the nation. The chief practical points of interest connected with Sabbath

observance in the present condition of the Christian world are:


Ø      The relation of the Christian Sunday to the Jewish Sabbath;

Ø      The authority upon which the change of day has been made; and

Ø      The proper mode of keeping the Lord’s day at the present time.


A few words will be said on each of these points:



      SABBATH. Both the Christian Sunday and the Jewish Sabbath have for

            their basis the expediency of assigning to the worship and contemplation of

            God some definite and regularly recurring portions of human life, instead

            of leaving individuals free to choose their own times and seasons. Temporal

            concerns so much occupy men, that, if there were no definite rule, they

            would be apt to push religious observance into the odd corners of human

            life, if not even to oust it altogether. This evil is prevented, or at any rate

            checked, by the appointment of a recurrent day, which is also almost a

            necessity for the practice of common worship. In both the Christian and the

            Jewish religion the same proportion of time is fixed upon, the appointment

            being that of one day out of seven, or one-seventh part of life, which

            certainly cannot be said to be an undue requirement. Thus far then the two

            institutions resemble one the other; but in the primary characteristics of the

            observance there is a remarkable contrast. The Jewish Sabbath was

            emphatically a day of holy rest — the Christian Sunday is a day of holy

            activity. The keynote of our Lord’s teaching on the subject is to be found

            in the words — “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day.” (Matthew

            12:12) - The Jews thought they “hallowed the Sabbath” by mere inaction —         

            some, as we have seen, would not move all day from the place and attitude in       

            which their waking moments found them. Christ taught that there was no virtue

            in idleness. “My Father worketh hitherto” (on the Sabbath), He said, “and I

            work.” (John 5:17) - On the Sabbath day He did His miracles, He taught the       

            people, He walked through the cornfields, He journeyed to Emmaus. And the     

            Christian Church has, in the main, continued true to her Founder’s teaching. The

            Christian Sunday has been, and is, a day of holy joy and holy activity.  Ministers  

            are of necessity more active on it than on any other. Lay people have felt it to be   

            the special day for imitating their Lord in “going about and doing good”  (Acts

            10:38) - in teaching the ignorant, visiting the poor and the afflicted — reading to  

            them, praying with them, ministering to their necessities. Cessation from worldly  

            business has come to be the rule on the Lord’s day, not from any superstitious       

            regard for mere rest, but in order that the active duties peculiarly belonging to the

            day shall not be neglected. The Christian Sunday has taken the place of the

            Jewish Sabbath, and occupies in the Christian system the position which the          

            Sabbath occupied in the Jewish. By what authority, then, has the change been     

            made? How are Christians justified in keeping holy the first day instead of the     

            seventh? Not, certainly, by any direct command of our Lord, for none such is       

            recorded. Not even by any formal decision of the Apostolic college, for the           

            question was untouched at the only council which they are known to have held     

            (Acts 15:6-29). But, as it would seem, by consentient apostolic practice. The         

            apostles appear, both by Scripture and by the records of primitive Christian           

            antiquity, to have practically made the change — i.e., they sanctioned the  

            discontinuance of seventh-day observance (Colossians 2:16; Galatians 4:9-10),      

            and they introduced first-day observance in its stead (John 20:19, 26; Acts 2:1,     

            20:7; I Corinthians 16:2). They regarded the Jewish sabbath as abrogated with

            the rest of the ceremonial law; and they established by their own authority, and    

            doubtless by the direction of the Holy Ghost, the keeping holy of the Lord’s      

            Day,” by meetings for Holy Communion, worship, and instruction on that, the     

            first day of the week, instead.  With respect to the proper mode of keeping the     

            Lord’s Day at the present time, there would seem to be different degrees of          

            obligation as to different parts of the customary observance. Attendance at

            Holy Communion, and by analogy at other services, has distinct apostolic

            sanction (Acts 20:7; Hebrews 10:25), and is obligatory in the highest sense.           

            Cessation from worldly business is a matter of ecclesiastical arrangement, in          

            which individual Christians should follow the regulations or traditions of their      

            own ecclesiastical community. Mere inaction should not be regarded as in any       

            sense a “keeping” of the day — the time abstracted from worldly affairs should

            be given to prayer, reading of the Scriptures, and works of mercy. Gentle and      

            healthful exercise should not be interrupted, being needful to make the body a    

            useful instrument of the soul. Relaxations, not required by adults or by those

who are rich, should be allowed to children and to the poor, every care being

taken that Sunday be not made to them a day of gloom, restraint, and

discomfort. Sunday was intended to be the Christian’s weekly festival, a day of

            cheerfulness    and holy joy, a foretaste of the joys of Heaven.



                                    “The Sundays of man’s life,

                                    Threaded together on Time’s string,

                                       Make bracelets for the wife

                                    Of the Eternal King.

                                      On Sunday, heaven’s gate stands open

                                    Blessings are plentiful and ripe —

                                    More plentiful than hope.”




The Physical Appearance of Manna,

Its Continuance and Its Deposition in the Tabernacle

(vs. 31-36)



In bringing the subject of the manna to a conclusion, the writer adds a few words:


Ø      On its appearance;

Ø      On its deposition by divine command in the Ark of the Covenant; and

Ø      On its continuance during the forty years of the wanderings.

                        It is evident that vs. 32-34 cannot have been written until after the

                        sojourn in Sinai, and the command to make a tabernacle (ch. 26.): as

                        also that v. 35 cannot have been written till the arrival of the Israelites at                           

                        the verge of the land of Canaan. But there is nothing in the passage that

                        militates against the Mosaic authorship of the whole.


31 “And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was

like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.”

Manna. Literally, as in the Septuagint, man — the word used when they first beheld

the substance (v. 15), and probably meaning “a gift.  The elongated form manna,

first appears in the Septuagint rendering of Numbers 11:6-7. It was like coriander

 seed. This is “a small round grain of a whitish or yellowish grey.” The comparison is

made again in ibid. v.7, where it is added that the color was that of bdellium —

either the gum so called, or possibly the pearl. The taste of it was like wafers made

with honey. Such wafers or cakes were constantly used as offerings by the Egyptians,

Greeks, and other nations.  They were ordinarily compounded of meal, oil, and honey.

Hence we can reconcile with the present passage the statement in ibid. v. 8, that

“the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.”



Divine Provision for Daily Need (vs. 13-31)




Ø      Their varied need was met. Flesh as well as bread was given. God gives

us richly all things to enjoy.  (I Timothy 6:17)


Ø      They came in the order and at the time God said they would come. The

evening brought the quails — the morning the manna. Nothing failed of

all that he had promised.


Ø      They were given in abundance. The quails “covered the camp;” of the

manna they “had no lack.” There is princely bounty with God for all

who trust in Him. He gives richly, even where He has made no covenant:

He fills “men’s hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17)  How

much more then will He bless those whom He has pledged Himself

to sustain!





Ø      They wait on Him. The supply He sends is only for the day, and He is

trusted for the days that are to follow. They do not refuse to pass on

further upon the wilderness path, because they do not see at the

beginning all the needed provision for the way.


Ø      They obey God’s call to toil.


o       They “gathered” of it every man according to his eating.”

o       They did not miss the opportunity God gave them. “When

 the sun waxed hot it melted;” and they therefore gathered

it “in the morning.” Be “not slothful in business.”

(Romans 121:11)




Ø      In attempting to save themselves from the toil which God commanded,

they kept the manna for next day’s use in defiance of the command to

preserve none of it till the morning (v. 27).


Ø      In refusing to rest on the Sabbath. The contradiction and willfulness

of unbelief: it hoards to be able to abstain from toil, and refuses to

obey God’s command to rest.


Ø      Public indifference to the existence of sin. These things were done by a

few only; but they called forth no public condemnation or holy fear of

God’s anger. The Christian community which does not mourn the sin

abounding in its midst has itself no living trust in God.


32 “And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, 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.”  And Moses said. Not at the moment, but some time subsequently.

See the introductory paragraph. Fill an omer. In the original it is “the omer,” and so

the Septuagint; but the reason for the introduction of the article is obscure. For your

generationsi.e., “for your descendants.”


33 “And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna

therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.”

Take a pot. The word here translated “pot” does not occur elsewhere in Scripture,

and is believed to be of Egyptian origin Gesenius translates it “basket;” but the

author of the Epistle to the Hebrews 9:4 follows the Septuagint in representing the

word used by στάμνοςstamnosurn – which certainly means “a jar” or “pot.”

Lay it up before the Lord. The “pot of manna” was laid up before the Lord with

the “tables of the covenant,’’ and “Aaron’s rod that budded” as symbolical that

God’s mercy was as eternal and essential, and as much to be remembered as

His justice, and perhaps also as especially symbolizing the “true bread  of life –



34 “As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony,

to be kept.: -“the Testimony” is not the Ark of the Covenant, which is never so

called, but the Covenant itself, or the two tables of stone engraved by the finger of

God, which are termed “the testimony” in ch. 25:16-21; 40:20).   The pot of manna

was laid up inside the ark (Hebrews 9:4) in front of the two tables. 



Memorials of Mercy (vs. 32-34)


It is indicative of the weakness and imperfection of human nature, that memorials of

mercies should be needed. But frail humanity cannot do without them; and God in

His goodness, knowing this, sanctions them. As He had the rod of Aaron, which

budded (Numbers 17:10), and the pot of manna, made permanent portions of the

furniture of the tabernacle for memorials, so He had memorial days established:


Ø      Sabbath,

Ø      Passover, and

Ø      Pentecost,


and memorial seasons, as:


Ø      the feasts of unleavened bread and

Ø      tabernacles,


that the children of Israel might keep His mercies in perpetual remembrance. We

Christians have no such material memorials as the tables of stone, the rod, and the

manna. We have, however, memorials of mercies:


  • IN OUR HOLY DAYS. Our Sunday is a perpetual memorial and

            reminder of the great mercy of Christ’s Resurrection, the earnest, and

            efficient cause, of our own. Christmas Day, Good Friday, Ascension-day,

            are memorials of the same kind; not so universally acknowledged, but

            useful memorials, where they are established and observed. Christianity

            commands that no man shall judge another in respect of such observances;

            but it would be an ill day for Christendom, if they were universally given

            up (as anti-Christian secularism would have us do – CY – 2010)  Thousands

            find them great helps to devotion, great stimulants to gratitude and love.


  • IN OUR HOLY EMBLEMS. The Cross, the Lamb, the Eagle, the

            Crown of Thorns, the Vine, the Rose, the Lily of the Valley, wherever we

            behold them, are memorials of divine mercies, never sufficiently

            remembered, most useful in recalling to our minds the acts, events,

            persons, wherewith they are scripturally connected. Some minds are so

            constituted as not to require such reminders. But to the mass of men they

            are of inexpressible value, waking up (as they do) twenty times a day holy

            thoughts that might otherwise have slumbered, and stirring the heart to

            devotions that might otherwise have been unthought of.


  • IN OUR HOLY BUILDINGS. What the entire tabernacle was to the

            Israelites in the wilderness, what the temple, so long as it stood, was to the

            Israelite nation, such to Christians are their cathedrals, abbeys, churches,

            chapels, oratories, perpetual reminders of holy things, memorials pointing

            heavenwards, and bringing to mind all that God has done for us. That they

            are also intended for practical use as places where we may worship in

            common, and be taught in common, does not prevent their being at the

            same time memorials. It is as memorials that they lift themselves up so

            high, ascending in tier over tier of useless pinnacle, and high-pitched roof,

            and spire-crowned tower. They aim at catching our attention, forcing us to

            look at them, and making us think of God’s mercies.



The Pot of Manna (vs. 32-34)


Aaron was ordered to take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein,

and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for future generations. The pot of

manna is alluded to in Hebrews, where it is described as “golden,” and as

laid up in the ark (Hebrews 9:4). It may be questioned how so

corruptible a substance admitted of preservation. But it is not so plain that

the manna had in itself any tendency to corrupt, so that the miracle is

perhaps to be looked for, not in the keeping fresh of the portion laid up in

the ark, but in the smiting with corruption of any portions sinfully hoarded

by the Israelites (v. 20). We are taught:



TO BE REMEMBERED BY US. It is fitting, even in the Church, to

appoint memorials of them.






Ø      “Man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth

out of the mouth of God.” (compare Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).


Ø      The lesson of dependence on God for supply of daily wants

(Matthew 6:11).


Ø      Typical lessons. The manna reminds us of Christ, our Bread of Life, in

heaven. “Your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). The

“hidden manna” in Revelation 2:17, would seem to indicate the

spiritual nourishment in communion with God and Christ which

will maintain soul and body for ever in the possession of an

incorruptible life — life undecaying, self-renewing, everlasting.



DEALINGS WITH HIS CHURCH. The pot of manna was laid up (after

the ark was made) “before the testimony, to be kept” (v. 34). The law is

the stern background, but near it is the golden pot, filled with the manna

which told of God’s goodness and grace to a people whom mere law

would have condemned. God can be thus gracious to his Church, not

because His law has been set aside, but because it has been magnified and

made honorable by Christ, whose blood pleads at the mercy-seat for the



35 And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a

land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the

land of Canaan.”  The children of Israel did eat manna forty years. Kalisch

observes that the actual time was not forty full years, but about one month

short of that period, since the manna began after the fifteenth day of the

second month of the first year (v. 1) and terminated just after Passover

of the forty-first year (Joshua 5:10-12). It may be added that Moses

cannot have written the present passage later than about the eleventh

month of the fortieth year (Deuteronomy 1:3; 34:10; Joshua 4:19);

when the manna had continued thirty-nine years and nine months. Until

they came to a land inhabited. What the writer intends to note is,

that the manna continued all the time they were in the wilderness, until they

reached inhabited territory, and then further (in the next clause), that it

lasted after that, until they came to the borders of Canaan. He does not say

that it even then left off. He writes exactly as Moses might be expected to

have written towards the close of his life. A later writer would, as Canon

Cook observes, have been more specific.


36 Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.”  An omer. The omer

must be distinguished from the “homer” of later times. It was an Egyptian

measure, as also was the ephah.” It is not improbable that the verse is an

addition by a later writer, as Joshua, or Ezra.



The Manna of the Body — A Homily on Providence (vs. 1-36)


“They said one to another, what is this? (margin) for they wist not what it

was” (v. 15). Introduction: — Trace the journey from Elim to

the sea (Numbers 33:10); and thence to the wilderness of Sin; and give

a thoroughly good exegetical exposition of the facts of the manna story. It

would be well also to show the supernatural character of the manna; and,

at the same time, that the manna supernatural was not unlike (and yet

unlike also) the manna natural of the desert of today; that God, in a word,

did not give the food of either Greenland or Australia in the Arabian

wilderness. The spiritual lessons of the miracle move on two levels, one

higher than the other. There is a body, and a soul: food for the one, and for

the other. There are then in the manna story truths concerning Divine

providence, and also touching Divine grace. Hence two homilies on the

manna. This on the manna of providence.


  • BODILY NEED IS AN APPEAL TO GOD. Before Israel articulately

prayed, its need cried: so now with twelve hundred millions of men. No

man “gets his own living,” but God gives it. Imagine one famine round the

world, and every living thing would become dumb and dead. The world’s

need is one majestic monotone of prayer.


  • THE ANSWER IS FULL AND FREE. No stint in that desert — no

stint now. A picture of the fullness with which God ever gives bread. There

has never been such an event as universal famine. Psalm 104:21-28.


  • THERE IS MYSTERY IN THE ANSWER. Note the question of the

text, and the wonder of the people, which was never relieved through all

the forty years. So with bread today. A great mystery! A common thing to

common minds; and perhaps to uncommon minds, that would like, as

scientists, to bow all mystery out of the universe. But as there was mystery

in the manna, so is there in every grain of corn. No scientist could produce

one, were he to try for fifty years. Why? Because the secret of life is a

secret of God; and the creation of organization LIES IN HIS POWER



  • THE BLAME OF WANT IS NOT WITH GOD. The question arises:

if God hears the moaning of the world’s need, and gives answer, why is

there so much want? Murmuring against Moses and Aaron, Israel

murmured against the Lord; so we, grumbling against secondary causes,

may be arraigning the First Cause. But the blame lies not there. Political

economy might give answer to the question: — Why want? But behind its

answers lie deeper causes — all summed up in the one word SIN — not

only the folly and sin (lacking foresight, drunkenness, etc.) of the

individual, but of all the ages, that is to say, self-centredness (the root

principle of sin), forming and solidifying customs and institutions, which

have for their effect the oppression and privation of millions. The instances

are numberless.


  • But if all the heritage of sin were to disappear, MAN MUST WORK.

(“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if

any would not work, neither should he eat.”  II Thessalonians 3:10 –

That was until Welfare; there seems to be a similarity with slavery in

Egypt and welfare of today – Pharaoh said the people had too much time

on their hands – maybe that is the source of protests today over entitlements

which some fantacize they deserve – CY - 2017)  Israel must gather manna.

Here enforce, not only the dignity of work, but the Christian duty thereof.

The idle, whether in high life or low, are the dangerous classes. If exempted

from toil for bread, all the more obligation to labor:


Ø      for the good of man and

Ø       the glory of God.




·         A HINT AGAINST MERE HOARDING. Distinguish between

extravagance, a due providence, and hoarding after a miserly fashion.

The via media here, as elsewhere, the right ethical path.


  • The manna story gives us THE TRUE THEORY OF LIFE. See the

view of Moses as to the purpose of the manna, in the light of experience,

after the lapse of forty years, in Deuteronomy 8:3. (compare Matthew

4:4). Man is to live, not for that which is lowest in him, but for that which

is highest. Life is to be DEPENDENCE UPON GOD;


Ø      for leading,

Ø      for support.


This was the object of the giving of the manna.




Manna for the Soul: A Homily on Grace (vs. 1-36)


“I am the living bread… if any man eat of this breat, he shall live for ever.”

(John 6:51). Having given the manna story, discussed the miracle, and given

the lessons bearing on our providential path, we now go up to the higher level,

and listen to the truths taught in relation to the kingdom of God’s grace. These

gather round the central truth — that the Lord Jesus Christ is the nutriment of

the soul. For that truth we have His own supreme authority. [See the full

discourse from His own lips on the manna, in John 6]



MANNA. Why Christ? Long before Israel cried, the Father saw the

coming distress; and resolved to give the manna to meet it. So with Christ.

Christ was given for atonement, and to bring from under the cloud of

condemnation; but also for other reasons beyond, to give life and strength

to the moral and spiritual man. There is a rich provision in the world for

the body and for the mind [See list above of foodstuffs God has provided

for man and rest assured that He has provided the same for the soul!  - CY –

2017)  ]; but there is something higher in man

the spiritual — not only a ψυχή - psuchaesoul, but a πνεῦμα

pneumaspirit -  for which PROVISION MUST BE MADE!


  • THE FAMINE OF THE SOUL WITHOUT CHRIST. It is very difficult to

imagine a world without bread; more to suppose a world without Christ.

His name, His history, His death, His reign, His presence, power, and love

are implied, and involved always, everywhere, in all the phenomena of life.

But endeavor to imagine Christ annihilated — no name of Christ to

entwine in the lullaby at the cradle, and so on through every stage and

circumstance of life, till the dying moment no Christ for the guilty,

sinning, sorrowing, tempted, etc. etc. WHAT A FAMINE OF THE SOUL!



the world would be without Christ, see positively WHAT CHRIST IS TO



Ø      The understanding cannot live without objective truth (mere

opinion will not sufficeAS WE CAN TELL BY



Ø      nor the heart without a supreme object of love; CHRIST IS THAT



Ø      nor the conscience without authority behind its moral imperative;



Ø      nor the will without a living inward abiding power; and



In very real and intelligible sense, CHRIST IS THE:


Ø      manna,

Ø      bread,

Ø      nutriment,

Ø      sustenance,

Ø      vitality, and

Ø      power


of the believing soul!


  • THE FULNESS OF THE SUPPLY. All we need certainly in bread,

assuredly is IN CHRIST!


  • ITS FREENESS. Men may confuse themselves, and imagine they “get”

their own bread. But manna was manifestly the free gift of heaven. SO

IS CHRIST!  This is the one truth, which it is so difficult for men

to receive????  See I John 5:11-12; Romans 6:23.


  • ITS MYSTERY. The name of the desert provision was “Man-Hu?”

“What is it?” Men did not solve the mystery ere they ate it.

(Same for those bitten by the fiery serpents in the wilderness.  All

they had to do was “Look and live!”  I highly recommend: Spurgeon Sermon,

#1500 or the Lifting up of the Brazen Serpent - #6 – this website – CY – 2017)

Why should men wait to solve the mystery of Christ’s person, office, etc.,

ere they eat “the living bread”?



TENT DOOR!are at every man’s tentdoor.  (“Behold, I stand at the door,

and knock:  if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in

to him, and sup with him, and he with me.”  Revelation 3:20)


  • ITS APPROPRIATION. Vain that manna for the two millions, if no

man went out to gather; so vain the all-sufficiency of Christ, if no man:


Ø      comes,

Ø      believes, or

Ø      appropriates. (John 6:35, 37, 40, 47, 57).


  • ITS EVERY-DAYNESS. No man can live upon a past experience of

the sufficiency of Christ.


  • ITS ORDER. Full and free as the supply of manna was, its

appropriation and use were under Divine direction, and according to a

certain order. So there are now channels, means, ordinances of grace,

which no man can safely neglect.


  • THE AIM IN MAN’S APPROPRIATION. Not self-indulgence; not

merely his own growth. No man is an end unto himself. The final end of

food is strength, work, good for others. The danger of middle-class

evangelicalism is that of making personal salvation the ultimate aim of

God’s grace. We are saved to win others to Christ! The end of bread is labor.


  • The subject carries our thoughts on to THE HIDDEN MANNA.

(Revelation 2:17).  CHRIST will be the soul’s nutriment in heaven.

“Hidden,” for there will be in heaven as yet undiscovered glories of

CHRIST THE LORD! For the final lesson see John 6:27.




   The Manna:  Regulations for thee Gathering and Using of It (vs. 16-36)



responsibilities and opportunities of the family relation, which had been

touched upon in the institution of the Passover, are here touched upon

again. Each head of a household had to see that the daily supply was

gathered for his family. Thus God shows that He is not only attentive for

that great nation which now, as a whole, is so clearly dependent on His

providing, so visibly cut off from secondary grounds of confidence, but

also has his eye on the under-providers. What He is to all the children of

men, He expects earthly parents to be in their measure and opportunity.

Earthly parents, even though evil, are yet able to give some good gifts; and

God will hold them responsible thus to give what they can. The peculiar

and transcendent gifts of grace they are not able to bestow; but seeing God

has constituted them the channels of certain blessings, woe be to them if

they block up the channels, or in any way diminish the flow of blessings

through them.



and some less; but the gathering amounted to the same thing in the end.

There was neither defect nor superfluity. We may take it that those who

gathered more did it in a spirit of unbelief and worldly wisdom, a spirit of

anxious questioning with regard to the morrow. They wanted to make

sure, lest the morrow’s manna did not come. God disappointed their plans,

and doubtless soon altered their conduct, by reducing the quantity gathered

to the stipulated omer. Thus unbelief’s labor was lost. And those who

gathered less did so through straitened opportunity. It may be they had less

time; it may be they were feeble or aged. But we are sure that, whatever

the cause of their deficiency, they must have been those who did their best;

and God honored their honest endeavors by making up the deficiency. If

they had been careless, it is pretty certain they would have had to go

starving. God has ever taken care of the principle that, if a man will not

work, neither shall He eat. (Our government thinks differently! – CY –

2017 – See where it is getting us  - so much selfishness and unrest in

American society – CY – 2017)  All that is required is, that we should do our

best according to our opportunities; but so much, at least, assuredly is required.

Remember the teaching of the parable (Matthew 20:1-16). The lord of

the vineyard gave the same amount to those coming in at the eleventh hour

as to those who began early in the morning. He considered pressing need

to be as important a thing as actual exertion. But at the same time he had

his eye on what had really been done. Those who entered at the eleventh

hour had to do their best even though it was but for a short time. Thus the

lord of the vineyard respected need on the one hand and disposition and