Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.The children of Israel sojourn in the wilderness of Sin, Exodus 16:1; murmur against Moses, Exodus 16:2,3. God promises to supply their wants with bread from heaven, Exodus 16:4; and directs about preparing this bread, Exodus 16:5. Moses reproves the people for murmuring, Exodus 16:7,8; appoints them to come before the Lord, Exodus 16:9. God’s glory appeareth in the cloud, Exodus 16:10. He sendeth quails, Exodus 16:13, and manna, Exodus 16:14,15. Every one gather a quantity, Exodus 16:16-18. The command about keeping it, Exodus 16:19, is disobeyed, Exodus 16:20. The time of gathering, Exodus 16:21. Their increasing the quantity on the sixth day, Exodus 16:22-24. The command concerning the sabbath, Exodus 16:25,26, disobeyed, Exodus 16:27; for which God is angry, Exodus 16:28. Moses’ s counsel, Exodus 16:29. They rest, Exodus 16:30. The name of the bread, Exodus 16:31. The command concerning the preservation of the manna, Exodus 16:32,33. The time of the manna’s continuance, Exodus 16:35.
They came not immediately
to the wilderness of Sin; for there is another stage of theirs by the Red Sea, mentioned Numbers 33:10, (in which chapter Moses designed exactly to set down all their stations,) but omitted here, because nothing remarkable happened in it; and Moses in this place designed to record only the memorable passages. The wilderness of Sin was a great wilderness between the Red Sea and Mount Sinai, but differing from that Zin mentioned Numbers 20:1.
And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:For want of meat, as appears from the following verse, their provisions brought out of Egypt being now spent.
And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.By the hand of the Lord; by any of those plagues wherewith God destroyed the Egyptians.
When we did eat bread to the full; which is not probable; but they amplify their former mercies, that they might aggravate their present calamity, as the manner of impatient and ungodly men is.
Quest. What danger was there of dying with hunger, seeing they had their flocks and herds which they brought out of Egypt?
Answ. 1. There was no great danger of it, but they use aggravating expressions, as discontented persons use to do.
2. Their flocks and herds were not so numerous as to suffice them for above a month’s provision, if they had all been slain and eaten, as it is implied Numbers 11:21,22. So there was some danger of it, though neither immediate nor great.
3. They were it seems resolved to spare these, partly for increase, and for their future subsistence; and partly for sacrifice, as not knowing how many of them they should be required to offer. See Exodus 10:26.
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.Bread, i.e. manna, which shall serve them instead of bread, Numbers 11:8, and was a more delicate and pleasant kind of bread, called therefore the bread of angels, Psalm 78:24,25.
From heaven; the air, oft called heaven, in which manna is produced.
Every day, Heb. the thing, i.e. the provision of a day in his day, i.e. every day, as much as was sufficient for a man’s sustenance that day. That I may prove them; either,
1. Whether by my giving them such miraculous and excellent provision they will be won to love and obey me. Or,
2. Whether by raining it down upon them for several days together they will learn to trust me for the following days, and therefore gather no more than that day required.
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.Prepare; lay up, grind, bake, or seethe. See Exodus 16:23. and Numbers 11:8.
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:And not by your our own authority or counsel, as you suggest.
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?The glory of the Lord; either this glorious work of God in giving manna; or rather the glorious appearance of God in the cloud, as is evident from Exodus 16:10.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Before the Lord; either before the cloudy pillar, where God was especially present; or in the place of God’s worship. For though the great tabernacle was not yet built, yet it seems from Exodus 33:7 there was a little tabernacle. For as the solemn, and public, and sabbath worship was among them before the tabernacle was built, so it was necessary. there should be some place where they did assemble together, and perform that worship which was proper to those times, and there God was supposed to be present in a peculiar manner.
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.An extraordinary brightness suddenly appearing in the pillar of cloud. See Leviticus 9:6,23.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,The Lord spake, or, had spoken, to wit, before, by comparing this with Exodus 16:7.
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.God chooseth the proper time for each kind of provision; the evening for the quails, which being brought from remote parts, by their day’s flight, about evening came thither; and the morning for manna, which usually falls at that time.
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.Heb. There was a bed of dew, wherewith the manna was covered, Revelation 16:14. To this the hidden manna, Revelation 2:17, alludes.
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.When the dew was gone up, to wit, into the air; or, was vanished, as the word ascend is used Jeremiah 48:15.
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.It is manna; or, What is this? which best suits with the following reason,
for they wist not what it was. Man signifies what in the Egyptian tongue; and it is not strange that the Israelites use one of their words, being newly come out of their land. Hence this is called manna; but it is of a different nature from the ordinary manna, which now we use only as physic for purging; whereas this manna was food, and nourishing, being prepared by the great God for this use.
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.According to his eating, i.e. as much as is sufficient for his eating.
An omer contains the tenth part of an ephah, and therefore was a very liberal allowance, and such as might abundantly suffice a man of greatest strength and stomach. It might seem too much, but it must be remembered that it was a very light meat, and easy of digestion; nor was every one obliged to eat up his whole portion, as we shall see.
And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.Either,
1. According as their families were more or less numerous. Or rather,
2. As the gatherers were more or less strong and active in gathering it.
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.All that was gathered by the members of one family was put into a heap, and then distributed to each person an omer, neither more nor less; to which St. Paul alludes, 2 Corinthians 8:13, &c.
And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.viz. For the provision of the next day, as distrusting God’s care and goodness in giving them more. Not that every one was bound to eat all of it, which certainly many of their stomachs could not bear; but that they were to dissolve it, or but it, as they did the remains of some sacrifices, Exodus 12:10 29:34, or consume it some other way.
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.Some of them left of it; either distrusting God’s providence for their future provisions; or out of curiosity to learn the nature of this manna, and what they might do when occasion required. It stank, not so much from its own nature, which was pure and durable, as from God’s judgment.
And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.To wit, as much of it as was left upon the ground. This was not from its own nature, which was so solid that it could endure the fire, and was bruised by a pestle; but from God’s wise providence, partly, that it might not be corrupted or trodden under foot, or otherwise abused, and so despised; partly, that it might not remain there to tempt any of them to gather more of it than they should; and partly, that all their stock of provision being wasted, they might be obliged to the more entire dependence upon God. And this is here mentioned as a reason why they gathered it in the morning.
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.Considering God’s present providence in causing it to fall in double proportion, and remembering that the next day was the sabbath day, which God had blessed and sanctified to his own immediate service, Genesis 2:3, and therefore was not to be employed in servile works, such as the gathering of manna was, they rightly concluded that God’s commands, delivered Exodus 16:16,19, reached only to ordinary days, and must in all reason give place to the more ancient and necessary law of the sabbath.
Either to acquaint him with this increase of the miracle, or to take his direction for their practice, because they found two commands seemingly clashing together, and therefore needed and desired his advice.
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; either to Moses by inspiration, or to the former patriarchs upon like occasions: this practice is agreeable to the former word and law of God concerning the sabbath, as it follow.
Bake and seethe: the manna was dressed these two ways, Numbers 11:8. The words to-day are not in the original, and possibly are better left out than taken in; or if they be taken in, they do not seem to me, as they do to many others, to prove that they were commanded to bake or seethe on the sixth day all that they were to eat both that day and upon the following sabbath, or that they were forbidden to bake or seethe it upon the sabbath day; for there is not a word here to that purpose; and it is apparent from the whole context, that the rest of the sabbath is not opposed to their baking or seething of it, but to their going out into the field to gather it. Nay, the contrary is here implied, because after they had baken and sodden what they intended to bake or seethe, part of the
manna did, as is here expressly added,
remain over, and was reserved for the sabbath day’s provision, and that unbaken and unsodden, otherwise it would not have been noted as a miraculous thing, that it did not stink nor breed worms, Exodus 16:24.
Lay up until the morning: what you do not eat this day, keep for the next day’s provision.
And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.As there was before, Exodus 16:20. So great a difference there is between the doing of a thing upon God’s command, and with his blessing, and the doing of the same thing against his will, and with his curse.
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.These words were spoken upon the morning of the sabbath day, as appears from the foregoing verse.
A sabbath unto the Lord, i.e. wholly consecrated to his service, and therefore not to be employed in servile works.
Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.No text from Poole on this verse.
And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?The Lord spoke unto Moses, that he might speak it to the people. He signifies that this was an old disease in them, to disobey God’s precepts, and to pollute his sabbaths.
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.Hath given you the sabbath; hath given to you, and to your fathers, that great command and privilege of the sabbath. Let no man go out of his place, out of his house or tent, into the field to gather manna, as appears from the occasion and reason of the law here before mentioned. For otherwise they might and ought to go out of their houses to the public assemblies, as appears from Leviticus 23:3 Acts 15:21; and to lead their cattle to watering, Luke 13:15; or to help them out of a pit, Matthew 12:11; and a sabbath day’s journey was permitted, Acts 1:12.
So the people rested on the seventh day.Or ceased, to wit, from gathering manna, by comparing this with Exodus 16:27, and consequently from all works of that nature.
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.It was like coriander seed, in shape and figure, but not in colour, for that is dark-coloured, but this white, as it follows here, like bdellium, &c., Numbers 11:7.
The taste of it, when it was raw; but when it was drest it was like fresh oil, Numbers 11:8.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.In the tabernacle, and by the ark, when they shall be built, and at present in the place where you meet for the solemn worship of God.
As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.i.e. Before the ark, which is called the ark of the testimony, Exodus 25:16; and here, by way of abbreviation,
the testimony, or witness, because in it were the tables of the covenant, or the law of God, which was a testimony of God’s authority and will, and of man’s subjection and duty, or of the covenant made between God and man. See Deu 10:5 31:26.
Quest. How could this be laid up before the ark, when the ark was not yet built?
Answ. This text only tells us that Aaron did lay it up, but it doth not determine the time, nor affirm that it was done at this instant, but rather intimates the contrary, and that it was done afterwards when the testimony, i.e. the ark, was built. As the next verse also speaks of what was done in the following forty years.
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.This Moses might well write; for though he did not go into Canaan, yet he came to the borders of Canaan. And though he did not see the cessation of the manna, yet he sufficiently knew both from the nature of the thing, and by revelation from God, that it would forthwith cease upon their entrance into Canaan.
Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.No text from Poole on this verse.