Exodus 16-18 Now the house of Israel called its name manna – What is it?

From Exodus 16-18

02 ExodusSome instructions and laws were given by the LORD to Israel as a result of their sin. Here is one of them.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

On the way to Sinai, the people get hungry and thirsty and begin to grumble. They start to imagine that it was good in Egypt and they were better off there.

16 They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt.

2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Ex 16.1-3)

‘Wilderness to kill the assembly’. The Israelites bring a ludicrous charge against Moses and Aaron. They accuse them of bringing them out of slavery only to kill them.

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4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”

6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?”

8 And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.” (Ex 16.4-8)

‘Bread from heaven’, ‘Evening meat’. The LORD hears their grumbling and tells Moses he will feed them with bread. In addition Moses assures them the LORD will also give them meat.

‘Test’. Only this is a test. They will learn day by day to trust and obey the LORD and he is the one who feeds them. God tests his people for their benefit, not for his own.

Who feeds you day by day?

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9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’ ”

10 And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.

11 And the LORD said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’ ” (Ex 16.9-12)

‘Twilight meat’, ‘Morning bread’. The LORD again reiterates he has heard the grumbling of the people. He responds again by affirming he will send meat and bread to feed the people.

Then they will know the LORD is their God.

13 In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground.

15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. (Ex 16.13-15)

‘What is it?’ The people ask what is this flake like thing on the ground. This is the bread from heaven the LORD promised to send. They ask the question ‘what is it?’.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

The Israelites eventually give a name to this bread from heaven.

Anon, 2009. 1000 Bible Images, Stuttgart, Germany: German Bible Society.

31 Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’ ” 33 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.” (Ex 16.31-33)

‎Manna is a whitish matter that aphids or scale insects produce by transforming the juice of a tamarisk tree, which sticks to these trees like dew. The manna melts by the heat of the sun.

Manna literally means, ‘What is it?’

Story of Jesus

Brand, C. et al. eds., 2003. Bread. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

Bear in mind the Israelites were on a journey to Mount Sinai and then to the promised land. All the way God was testing and feeding them. In the gospel Jesus identifies himself as the bread from heaven.

32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (Jn 6.32-35)

His statement about himself should remind us that we, like the Israelites, are on a journey and the bread the LORD provides us with to sustain us is Christ himself.

Jesus is our bread of life.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.