Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The Israelites journey from Elim, and come to the wilderness of Sin, Exo 16:1. They murmur for lack of bread, Exo 16:2, Exo 16:3. God promises to rain bread from heaven for them, Exo 16:4, of which they were to collect a double portion on the sixth day, Exo 16:5. A miraculous supply of flesh in the evening and bread in the morning, promised, Exo 16:6-9. The glory of the Lord appears in the cloud, Exo 16:10. Flesh and bread promised as a proof of God's care over them, Exo 16:11, Exo 16:12. Quails come and cover the whole camp, Exo 16:13. And a dew fell which left a small round substance on the ground, which Moses tells them was the bread which God had sent, Exo 16:14, Exo 16:15. Directions for gathering it, Exo 16:16. The Israelites gather each an omer, Exo 16:17, Exo 16:18. They are directed to leave none of it till the next day, Exo 16:19; which some neglecting, it become putrid, Exo 16:20. They gather it every morning, because it melted when the sun waxed hot, Exo 16:21. Each person gathers two omers on the sixth day, Exo 16:22. Moses commands them to keep the seventh as a Sabbath to the Lord, Exo 16:23. What was laid up for the Sabbath did not putrefy, Exo 16:24. Nothing of it fell on that day, hence the strict observance of the Sabbath was enjoined, Exo 16:25-30. The Israelites name the substance that fell with the dew manna; its appearance and taste described, Exo 16:31. An omer of the manna is commanded to be laid up for a memorial of Jehovah's kindness, Exo 16:32-34. The manna now sent continued daily for the space of forty years, Exo 16:35. How much an omer contained, Exo 16:36.
The wilderness of Sin - This desert lies between Elim and Sinai, and from Elim, Dr. Shaw says, Mount Sinai can be seen distinctly. Mr. Ainsworth supposes that this wilderness had its name from a strong city of Egypt called Sin, near which it lay. See Eze 30:15, Eze 30:16. Before they came to the wilderness of Sin, they had a previous encampment by the Red Sea after they left Elim, of which Moses makes distinct mention Num 33:10, Num 33:11.
The fifteenth day of the second month - This was afterwards called Ijar, and they had now left Egypt one month, during which It is probable they lived on the provisions they brought with them from Rameses, though it is possible they might have had a supply from the seacoast. Concerning Mount Sinai, See Clarke's note on Exo 19:1.
The whole congregation - murmured - This is an additional proof of the degraded state of the minds of this people; See Clarke's note on Exo 13:17. And this very circumstance affords a convincing argument that a people so stupidly carnal could not have been induced to leave Egypt had they not been persuaded so to do by the most evident and striking miracles. Human nature can never be reduced to a more abject state in this world than that in which the body is enthralled by political slavery, and the soul debased by the influence of sin. These poor Hebrews were both slaves and sinners, and were therefore capable of the meanest and most disgraceful acts.
The flesh pots - As the Hebrews were in a state of slavery in Egypt, they were doubtless fed in various companies by their task masters in particular places, where large pots or boilers were fixed for the purpose of cooking their victuals. To these there may be a reference in this place, and the whole speech only goes to prove that they preferred their bondage in Egypt to their present state in the wilderness; for they could not have been in a state of absolute want, as they had brought an abundance of flocks and herds with them out of Egypt.
I will rain bread - Therefore this substance was not a production of the desert: nor was the dew that was the instrument of producing it common there, else they must have had this bread for a month before.
Ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out - After all the miracles they had seen they appear still to suppose that their being brought out of Egypt was the work of Moses and Aaron; for though the miracles they had already seen were convincing for the time, yet as soon as they had passed by they relapsed into their former infidelity. God therefore saw it necessary to give them a daily miracle in the fall of the manna, that they might have the proof if his Divine interposition constantly before their eyes. Thus they knew that Jehovah had brought them out, and that it was not the act of Moses and Aaron.
Ye shall see the glory of the Lord - Does it not appear that the glory of the Lord is here spoken of as something distinct from the Lord? for it is said He (the glory) heareth your murmurings against the Lord; though the Lord may be here put for himself, the antecedent instead of the relative. This passage may receive some light from Heb 1:3 : Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, etc. And as St. Paul's words are spoken of the Lord Jesus, is it not likely that the words of Moses refer to him also? "No man hath seen God at any time;" hence we may infer that Christ was the visible agent in all the extraordinary and miraculous interferences which took place both in the patriarchal times and under the law.
In the evening flesh to eat - Viz., the quails; and in the morning bread to the full, viz., the manna.
And what are we? - Only his servants, obeying his commands.
Your murmurings are not against us - For we have not brought you up from Egypt; but against the Lord, who, by his own miraculous power and goodness, has brought you out of your slavery.
Come near before the Lord - This has been supposed to refer to some particular place, where the Lord manifested his presence. The great tabernacle was not yet built, but there appears to have been a small tabernacle or tent called the Tabernacle of the Congregation, which, after the sin of the golden calf, was always placed without the camp; see Exo 33:7 : And Moses took the Tabernacle and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it The Tabernacle of the Congregation; and it came to pass that every one that sought the Lord went out unto the Tabernacle of the Congregation, which was without the camp. This could not be that portable temple which is described Exodus 26, etc., and which was not set up till the first day of the first month of the second year, after their departure from Egypt, (Exodus 40)., which was upwards of ten months after the time mentioned in this chapter; and notwithstanding this, the Israelites are commanded (Exo 16:34) to lay up an omer of the manna before the testimony, which certainly refers to an ark, tabernacle, or some such portable shrine, already in existence. If the great tabernacle be intended, the whole account of laying up the manna must be introduced here by anticipation, Moses finishing the account of what was afterwards done, because the commencement of those circumstances which comprehended the reasons of the fact itself took place now. See Clarke's note on Exo 16:34.
But from the reasonings in the preceding verses it appears that much infidelity still reigned in the hearts of the people; and in order to convince them that it was God and not Moses that had brought them out of Egypt, he (Moses) desired them to come near, or pay particular attention to some extraordinary manifestation of the Lord. And we are told in the tenth verse, that "as Aaron spake unto them, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold the glory of the Lord appeared, and the Lord spake unto Moses," etc. Is not this passage explained by Exo 19:9, "And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear, when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever?" May we not conclude that Moses invited them to come near before the Lord, and so witness his glory, that they might be convinced it was God and not he that led them out of Egypt, and that they ought to submit to him, and cease from their murmurings? It is said, Exo 19:17, that Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God. And in this instance there might have been a similar though less awful manifestation of the Divine presence.
As Aaron spake - So he now became the spokesman or minister of Moses to the Hebrews, as he had been before unto Pharaoh; according to what is written, Exo 7:1, etc.
At even the quails came - שלו selav, from שלה salah, to be quiet, easy, or secure; and hence the quail, from their remarkably living at ease and plenty among the corn. "An amazing number of these birds," says Hasselquist, Travels, p. 209, "come to Egypt at this time, (March), for in this month the wheat ripens. They conceal themselves among the corn, but the Egyptians know that they are thieves, and when they imagine the field to be full of them they spread a net over the corn and make a noise, by which the birds, being frightened, and endeavoring to rise, are caught in the net in great numbers, and make a most delicate and agreeable dish." The Abb Pluche tells us, in his Histoire du Ciel, that the quail was among the ancient Egyptians the emblem of safety and security. "Several learned men, particularly the famous Ludolf, Bishop Patrick, and Scheuchzer, have supposed that the שלוים selavim eaten by the Israelites were locusts. But not to insist on other arguments against this interpretation, they are expressly called שאר sheer, flesh, Psa 78:27, which surely locusts are not; and the Hebrew word is constantly rendered by the Septuagint ορτυγομητρα, a large kind of quail, and by the Vulgate coturnices, quails. Compare The Wisdom of Solomon 16:2, 19:12; Num 11:31, Num 11:32; Psa 105:40; and on Numbers 11 observe that כאמתים keamathayim should be rendered, not two cubits high, but as Mr. Bate translates it, 'two cubits distant, (i.e., one from the other), for quails do not settle like the locusts one upon another, but at small distances.' And had the quails lain for a day's journey round the camp, to the great height of two cubits, upwards of three feet, the people could not have been employed two days and a night in gathering them. The spreading them round the camp was in order to dry them in the burning sands for use, which is still practiced in Egypt." See Parkhurst, sub voce שלה salah.
The difficulties which encumber the text, supposing these to be quails, led Bishop Patrick to imagine them to be locusts. The difficulties are three: "1. Their coming by a wind. 2. Their immense quantities, covering a circle of thirty or forty miles, two cubits thick. 3. Their being spread in the sun for drying, which would have been preposterous had they been quails, for it would have made them corrupt the sooner; but this is the principal way of preparing locusts to keep for a month or more, when they are boiled or otherwise dressed." This difficulty he thinks interpreters pass over, who suppose quails to be intended in the text. Mr. Harmer takes up the subject, removes the bishop's difficulties, and vindicates the common version.
"These difficulties appear pressing, or at least the two last; nevertheless, I have met with several passages in books of travels, which I shall here give an account of, that they may soften them; perhaps my reader may think they do more.
"No interpreters, the bishop complains, supposing they were quails, account for the spreading them out in the sun. Perhaps they have not. Let me then translate a passage of Maillet, which relates to a little island which covers one of the ports of Alexandria: 'It is on this island, which lies farther into the sea than the main land of Egypt, that the birds annually alight which come hither for refuge in autumn, in order to avoid the severity of the cold of our winters in Europe. There is so large a quantity of all sorts taken there, that after these little birds have been stripped of their feathers, and buried in the burning sands for about half a quarter of an hour, they are worth but two sols the pound. The crews of those vessels which in that season lie in the harbour of Alexandria, have no other meat allowed them.' Among other refugees of that time, Maillet elsewhere expressly mentions quails, which are, therefore, I suppose, treated after this manner. This passage then does what, according to the bishop, no commentator has done; it explains the design of spreading these creatures, supposing they were quails, round about the camp; it was to dry them in the burning sands in order to preserve them for use. So Maillet tells us of their drying fish in the sun of Egypt, as well as of their preserving others by means of pickle. Other authors speak of the Arabs drying camel's flesh in the sun and wind, which, though it be not at all salted, will if kept dry remain good a long while, and which oftentimes, to save themselves the trouble of dressing, they will eat raw. This is what St. Jerome may be supposed to refer to, when he calls the food of the Arabs carnes semicrudae. This drying then of flesh in the sun is not so preposterous as the bishop imagined. On the other hand, none of the authors that speak of their way of preserving locusts in the east, so far as I at present recollect, give any account of drying them in the sun. They are, according to Pellow, first purged with water and salt, boiled in new pickle, and then laid up in dry salt. So, Dr. Russel says, the Arabs eat these insects when fresh, and also salt them up as a delicacy. Their immense quantities also forbid the bishop's believing they were quails; and in truth he represents this difficulty in all its force, perhaps too forcibly. A circle of forty miles in diameter, all covered with quails to the depth of more than forty-three inches, without doubt is a startling representation of this matter: and I would beg leave to add that the like quantity of locusts would have been very extraordinary: but then this is not the representation of Scripture; it does not even agree with it; for such a quantity of either quails or locusts would have made the clearing of places for spreading them out, and the passing of Israel up and down in the neighborhood of the camp, very fatiguing, which is not supposed.
"Josephus supposed they were quails, which he says are in greater numbers thereabouts than any other kinds of birds; and that, having crossed the sea to the camp of Israel, they who in common fly nearer the ground than most other birds, flew so low through the fatigue of their passage as to be within reach of the Israelites. This explains what he thought was meant by the two cubits from the face of the earth - their flying within three or four feet of the ground.
"And when I read Dr. Shaw's account of the way in which the Arabs frequently catch birds that they have tired, that is, by running in upon them and knocking them down with their zerwattys, or bludgeons, as we should call them, I think I almost see the Israelites before me pursuing the poor, fatigued, and languid quails.
"This is indeed a laborious method of catching these birds, and not that which is now used in Egypt; for Egmont and Heyman tell us, that in a walk on the shore of Egypt they saw a sandy plain several leagues in extent, and covered with reeds without the least verdure; between which reeds they saw many nets laid for catching quails, which come over in large flights from Europe during the month of September. If the ancient Egyptians made use of the same method of catching quails that they now practice on those shores, yet Israel in the wilderness, without these conveniences, must of course make use of that more inartificial and laborious way of catching them. The Arabs of Barbary, who have not many conveniences, do the same thing still.
"Bishop Patrick supposes a day's journey to be sixteen or twenty miles, and thence draws his circle with a radius of that length; but Dr. Shaw, on another occasion, makes a day's journey but ten miles, which would make a circle but of twenty miles in diameter: and as the text evidently designs to express it very indeterminately, as it were a day's journey, it might be much less.
"But it does not appear to me at all necessary to suppose the text intended their covering a circular or nearly a circular spot of ground, but only that these creatures appeared on both sides of the camp of Israel, about a day's journey. The same word is used Exo 7:24, where round about can mean only on each side of the Nile. And so it may be a little illustrated by what Dr. Shaw tells us of the three flights of storks which he saw, when at anchor under the Mount Carmel, some of which were more scattered, others more compact and close, each of which took up more than three hours in passing, and extended itself more than half a mile in breadth. Had this flight of quails been no greater than these, it might have been thought, like them, to have been accidental; but so unusual a flock as to extend fifteen or twenty miles in breadth, and to be two days and one night in passing, and this, in consequence of the declaration of Moses, plainly determined that the finger of God was there.
"A third thing which was a difficulty with the bishop was their being brought with the wind. A hot southerly wind, it is supposed, brings the locusts; and why quails might not be brought by the instrumentality of a like wind, or what difficulty there is in that supposition, I cannot imagine. As soon as the cold is felt in Europe, Maillet tells us, turtles, quails, and other birds come to Egypt in great numbers; but he observed that their numbers were not so large in those years in which the winters were favorable in Europe; from whence he conjectured that it is rather necessity than habit which causes them to change their climate: if so, it appears that it is the increasing heat that causes their return, and consequently that the hot sultry winds from the south must have a great effect upon them, to direct their flight northwards.
"It is certain that it is about the time that the south wind begins to blow in Egypt, which is in April, that many of these migratory birds return. Maillet, who joins quails and turtles together, and says that they appear in Egypt when the cold begins to be felt in Europe, does not indeed tell us when they return: but Thevenot may be said to do it; for after he had told his reader that they catch snipes in Egypt from January to March, he adds that in May they catch turtles, and that the turtlers return again in September; now as they go together southward in September, we may believe they return again northward much about the same time. Agreeably to which, Russel tells us that quails appear in abundance about Aleppo in spring and autumn.
"If natural history were more perfect we might speak to this point with great distinctness; at present, however, it is so far from being an objection to their being quails that their coming was caused by a wind, that nothing is more natural. The same wind would in course occasion sickness and mortality among the Israelites, at least it does so in Egypt. The miraculousness then in this story does not lie in their dying, but the prophet's foretelling with exactness the coming of that wind, and in the prodigious numbers of the quails that came with it, together with the unusualness of the place, perhaps, where they alighted.
"Nothing more remains to be considered but the gathering so large a quantity as ten omers by those that gathered fewest. But till that quantity is more precisely ascertained, it is sufficient to remark that this is only affirmed of those expert sportsmen among the people, who pursued the game two whole days and a whole night without intermission; and of them, and of them only, I presume it is to be understood that he that gathered fewest gathered ten omers. Hasselquist, who frequently expresses himself in the most dubious manner in relation to these animals, at other times is very positive that, if they were birds at all, they were a species of the quail different from ours, which he describes as very much resembling the 'red partridge, but as not being larger than the turtledove.' To this he adds, that 'the Arabians carry thousands of them to Jerusalem about Whitsuntide, to sell there,' p. 442. In another place he tells us 'It is found in Judea as well as in Arabia Petraea, and that he found it between Jordan and Jericho,' p. 203. One would imagine that Hasselquist means the scata, which is described by Dr. Russel, vol. ii., p. 194, and which he represents as brought to market at Aleppo in great numbers in May and June, though they are to be met with in all seasons.
"A whole ass-load of them, he informs us, has often been taken at once shutting a clasping net, in the above-mentioned months, they are in such plenty." - Harmer vol. iv., p. 367.
Behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing - It appears that this small round thing fell with the dew, or rather the dew fell first, and this substance fell on it. The dew might have been intended to cool the ground, that the manna on its fall might not be dissolved; for we find from Exo 16:21, that the heat of the sun melted it. The ground therefore being sufficiently cooled by the dew, the manna lay unmelted long enough for the Israelites to collect a sufficient quantity for their dally use.
They said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was - This is a most unfortunate translation, because it not only gives no sense, but it contradicts itself. The Hebrew מן הוא man hu, literally signifies, What is this? for, says the text, they wist not what it was, and therefore they could not give it a name. Moses immediately answers the question, and says, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. From Exo 16:31 we learn that this substance was afterwards called מן man, probably in commemoration of the question they had asked on its first appearance. Almost all our own ancient versions translate the words, What is this?
What this substance was we know not. It was nothing that was common to the wilderness. It is evident the Israelites never saw it before, for Moses says, Deu 8:3, Deu 8:16 : He fed thee with manna which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; and it is very likely that nothing of the kind had ever been seen before; and by a pot of it being laid up in the ark, it is as likely that nothing of the kind ever appeared more, after the miraculous supply in the wilderness had ceased. It seems to have been created for the present occasion, and, like Him whom it typified, to have been the only thing of the kind, the only bread from heaven, which God ever gave to preserve the life of man, as Christ is the true bread that came down from heaven, and was given for the life of the world. See John 6:31-58.
An omer for every man - I shall here once for all give a short account of the measures of capacity among the Hebrews.
Omer, עמר from the root amar, to press, squeeze, collect, and bind together; hence a sheaf of corn - a multitude of stalks pressed together. It is supposed that the omer, which contained about three quarts English, had its name from this circumstance; that it was the most contracted or the smallest measure of things dry known to the ancient Hebrews; for the קב kab, which was less, was not known till the reign of Jehoram, king of Israel, Kg2 6:25 - Parkhurst.
The Ephah, אפה or איפה eiphah, from אפה aphah, to bake, because this was probably the quantity which was baked at one time. According to Bishop Cumberland the ephah contained seven gallons, two quarts, and about half a pint, wine measure; and as the omer was the tenth part of the ephah, Exo 16:36, it must have contained about six pints English.
The Kab, קב is said to have contained about the sixth part of a seah, or three pints and one third English.
The Homer, חמר chomer, mentioned Lev 27:16, was quite a different measure from that above, and is a different word in the Hebrew. The chomer was the largest measure of capacity among the Hebrews, being equal to ten baths or ephahs, amounting to about seventy-five gallons, three pints, English. See Eze 45:11, Eze 45:13, Eze 45:14. Goodwin supposes that this measure derived its name from חמר chamor, an ass, being the ordinary load of that animal.
The Bath, בת, was the largest measure of capacity next to the homer, of which it was the tenth part. It was the same as the ephah, and consequently contained about seven gallons, two quarts, and half a pint, and is always used in Scripture as a measure of liquids.
The Seah, סאה, was a measure of capacity for things dry, equal to about two gallons and a half English. See Kg2 7:1, Kg2 7:16, Kg2 7:18.
The Hin, הין, according to Bishop Cumberland, was the one-sixth part of an ephah, and contained a little more than one gallon and two pints. See Exo 29:40.
The Log, לג, was the smallest measure of capacity for liquids among the Hebrews: it contained about three quarters of a pint. See Lev 14:10, Lev 14:12.
Take ye - for them which are in his tents - Some might have been confined in their tents through sickness or infirmity, and charity required that those who were in health should gather a portion for them. For though the psalmist says, Psa 105:37, There was not one feeble person among their tribes, this must refer principally to their healthy state when brought out of Egypt; for it appears that there were many infirm among them when attacked by the Amalekites. See Clarke's note on Exo 17:8.
Some more, some less - According to their respective families, an omer for a man; and according to the number of infirm persons whose wants they undertook to supply.
He that gathered much had nothing over - Because his gathering was in proportion to the number of persons for whom he had to provide. And some having fewer, others more in family, and the gathering being in proportion to the persons who were to eat of it, therefore he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack. Probably every man gathered as much as he could; and then when brought home and measured by an omer, if he had a surplus, it went to supply the wants of some other family that had not been able to collect a sufficiency, the family being large, and the time in which the manna might be gathered, before the heat of the day, not being sufficient to collect enough for so numerous a household, several of whom might be so confined as not to be able to collect for themselves. Thus there was an equality, and in this light the words of St. Paul, Co2 8:15, lead us to view the passage. Here the 36th verse should come in: Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.
Let no man leave of it till the morning - For God would have them to take no thought for the morrow, and constantly to depend on him for their dally bread. And is not that petition in our Lord's prayer founded on this very circumstance, Give us day by day our daily bread?
It bred worms - Their sinful curiosity and covetousness led them to make the trial; and they had a mass of the most loathsome putrefaction for their pains. How gracious is God! He is continually rendering disobedience and sin irksome to the transgressor; that finding his evil ways to be unprofitable, he may return to his Maker, and trust in God alone.
On the sixth day they gathered twice as much - This they did that they might have a provision for the Sabbath, for on that day no manna fell, Exo 16:26, Exo 16:27. What a convincing miracle was this! No manna fell on the Sabbath! Had it been a natural production it would have fallen on the Sabbath as at other times; and had there not been a supernatural influence to keep it sweet and pure, it would have been corrupted on the Sabbath as well as on other days. By this series of miracles God showed his own power, presence, and goodness, 1. In sending the manna on each of the six days; 2. In sending none on the seventh, or Sabbath; 3. In preserving it from putrefaction when laid up for the use of that day, though it infallibly corrupted if kept over night on any other day.
To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath - There is nothing either in the text or context that seems to intimate that the Sabbath was now first given to the Israelites, as some have supposed: on the contrary, it is here spoken of as being perfectly well known, from its having been generally observed. The commandment, it is true, may be considered as being now renewed; because they might have supposed that in their unsettled state in the wilderness they might have been exempted from the observance of it. Thus we find, 1. That when God finished his creation, he instituted the Sabbath; 2. When he brought the people out of Egypt, he insisted on the strict observance of it; 3. When he gave the Law, he made it a tenth part of the whole, such importance has this institution in the eyes of the Supreme Being! On the supposed change of the Sabbath from what we call Sunday to Saturday, effected on this occasion, See Clarke's note on Deu 5:15.
Abide ye every man in his place - Neither go out to seek manna nor for any other purpose; rest at home and devote your time to religious exercises. Several of the Jews understood by place in the text, the camp, and have generally supposed that no man should go out of the place, i.e., the city, town, or village in which he resides, any farther than one thousand cubits, about an English mile, which also is called a Sabbath day's journey, Act 1:12; and so many cubits they consider the space round the city that constitutes its suburbs, which they draw from Num 35:3, Num 35:4. Some of the Jews have carried the rigorous observance of the letter of this law to such a length, that in whatever posture they find themselves on the Sabbath morning when they awake, they continue in the same during the day; or should they be up and happen to fall, they refuse even to rise till the Sabbath be ended! Mr. Stapleton tells a story of one Rabbi Solomon, who fell into a slough on the Jewish Sabbath, Saturday, and refused to be pulled out, giving his reason in the following Leonine couplet: -
Sabbatha sancta colo De stereore surgere nolo.
"Out of this slough I will not rise
For holy Sabbath day I prize."
The Christians, finding him thus disposed determined he should honor their Sabbath in the same place, and actually kept the poor man in the slough all Sunday, giving their reasons in nearly the same way: -
Sabbatha nostra quidem, Solomon, celebrabis ibidem.
"In the same slough, thou stubborn Jew,
Our Sabbath day thou shalt spend too."
This might have served to convince him of his folly, but certainly was not the likeliest way to convert him to Christianity.
Fabyan, in his Chronicles, tells the following story of a case of this kind. "In this yere also (1259) fell that happe of the Iewe of Tewkysbury, which fell into a gonge upon the Satyrday, and wolde not for reverence of his sabbot day be pluckyd out; whereof heryng the Erle of Gloucetyr, that the Iewe dyd so great reverence to his sabbot daye, thought he wolde doo as moche unto his holy day, which was Sonday, and so kepte hym there tyll Monday, at whiche season he was foundyn dede." Then the earl of Gloucester murdered the poor man.
Called the name thereof Manna - See Clarke's note on Exo 16:15.
To be kept for your generations - See Clarke's note on Exo 16:9.
Laid it up before the testimony - The עדות eduth or testimony belonged properly to the tabernacle, but that was not yet built. Some are of opinion that the tabernacle, built under the direction of Moses, was only a renewal of one that had existed in the patriarchal times. See Clarke's note on Exo 16:9. The word signifies reference to something beyond itself; thus the tabernacle, the manna, the tables of stone, Aaron's rod, etc., all bore reference and testimony to that spiritual good which was yet to come, viz., Jesus Christ and his salvation.
The children of Israel did eat manna forty years - From this verse it has been supposed that the book of Exodus was not written till after the miracle of the manna had ceased. But these words might have been added by Ezra, who under the direction of the Divine Spirit collected and digested the different inspired books, adding such supplementary, explanatory, and connecting sentences, as were deemed proper to complete and arrange the whole of the sacred canon. For previously to his time, according to the universal testimony of the Jews, all the books of the Old Testament were found in an unconnected and dispersed state.
Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah - About six pints, English. See Clarke's note on Exo 16:16. The true place of this verse seems to be immediately after Exo 16:18, for here it has no connection.
1. On the miracle of the manna, which is the chief subject in this chapter, a good deal has already been said in the preceding notes. The sacred historian has given us the most circumstantial proofs that it was a supernatural and miraculous supply; that nothing of the kind had ever been seen before, and probably nothing like it had ever afterwards appeared. That it was a type of our blessed Redeemer, and of the salvation which he has provided for man, there can be no doubt, for in this way it is applied by Christ himself; and from it we may gather this general conclusion, that salvation is of the Lord. The Israelites must have perished in the wilderness, had not God fed them with bread from heaven; and every human soul must have perished, had not Jesus Christ come down from heaven, and given himself for the life of the world.
2. God would have the Israelites continually dependent on himself for all their supplies; but he would make them, in a certain way, workers with him. He provided the manna; they gathered and ate it. The first was God's work; the latter, their own. They could not produce the manna, and God would not gather it for them. Thus the providence of God appears in such a way as to secure the co-operation of man. Though man should plant and water, yet it is God who giveth the increase. But if man neither plant nor water, God will give no increase. We cannot do God's work, and he will not do ours. Let us, therefore, both in things spiritual and temporal, be workers together with Him.
3. This daily supply of the manna probably gave rise to that petition, Give us to-day our daily bread. It is worthy of remark, 1. That what was left over night contrary to the command of God bred worms and stank; 2. That a double portion was gathered on the day preceding the Sabbath; 3. That this alone continued wholesome on the following day; and, 4. That none fell on the Sabbath! Hence we find that the Sabbath was considered a Divine institution previously to the giving of the Mosaic law; and that God continued to honor that day by permitting no manna to fall during its course. Whatever is earned on the Sabbath is a curse in a man's property. They who Will be rich, fall into temptation and into a snare, etc.; for, using illicit means to acquire lawful things, they bring God's curse upon themselves, and are drowned in destruction and perdition. Reader, dost thou work on the Sabbath to increase thy property? See thou do it not! Property acquired in this way will be a curse both to thee and to thy posterity.
4. To show their children and children's children what God had done for their fathers, a pot of manna was laid up before the testimony. We should remember our providential and gracious deliverances in such a way as to give God the praise of his own grace. An ungrateful heart is always associated with an unbelieving mind and an unholy life. Like Israel, we should consider with what bread God has fed our fathers, and see that we have the same; the same Christ - the bread of life, the same doctrines, the same ordinances, and the same religious experience. How little are we benefited by being Protestants, if we be not partakers of the Protestant faith! And how useless will even that faith be to us, if we hold the truth in unrighteousness. Our fathers had religion enough to enable them to burn gloriously for the truth of God! Reader, hast thou so much of the life of God in thy soul, that thou couldst burn to ashes at the stake rather than lose it? In a word, couldst thou be a martyr? Or hast thou so little grace to lose, that thy life would be more than an equivalent for thy loss? Where is the manna on which thy fathers fed?