Exodus 16

 

וַיִּסְעוּ מֵאֵילִם וַיָּבֹאוּ כָּל־עֲדַת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל־מִדְבַּר־סִין אֲשֶׁר בֵּין־אֵילִם וּבֵין סִינָי בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר    16:1

 יֹום לַחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי לְצֵאתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם

Exod. 16:1  And they set out from Elim and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, in the fifteenth day of the second month of their departure from the land of Egypt.

We have no way of knowing precisely when the children of Israel crossed the Reed Sea and the Egyptians died.  But from this verse we know that it was less than a month after the Exodus.  The people arrived in the wilderness of Sin exactly one month, to the day, after leaving Egypt, crossing the Reed Sea and traveling to the wilderness of Shur, then to Marah and to Elim.

וַיִּלִּינוּ כָּל־עֲדַת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל־מֹשֶׁה וְעַל־אַהֲרֹן בַּמִּדְבָּר   16:2

Exod. 16:2  And all the congregation of the children of Israel complained about Moses and about Aaron in the wilderness,

The first word in the verse, translated as “And ... complained,”  is traditionally thought to be misspelled.  The sages claimed that the second yad should be a vav.  As far as I am concerned, the word can be spelled either way, and I don’t consider it an error.  Call me presumptuous!

וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִי־יִתֵּן מוּתֵנוּ בְיַד־יְהוָה בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בְּשִׁבְתֵּנוּ עַל־סִיר הַבָּשָׂר   16:3

בְּאָכְלֵנוּ לֶחֶם לָשֹׂבַע כִּי־הֹוצֵאתֶם אֹתָנוּ אֶל־הַמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה לְהָמִית אֶת־כָּל־הַקָּהָל הַזֶּה בָּרָעָב

Exod. 16:3  and the children of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt with our sitting down over the pot of meat, with our eating bread to the full, for you have brought us to this wilderness to kill this whole assembly by starvation.”

This verse suggests something that could have been deeply troubling.  How could the Israelites be complaining about a lack of food?    More  >>

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה הִנְנִי מַמְטִיר לָכֶם לֶחֶם מִן־הַשָּׁמָיִם וְיָצָא הָעָם וְלָקְטוּ דְּבַר־יֹום בְּיֹומֹו לְמַעַן    16:4

אֲנַסֶּנּוּ הֲיֵלֵךְ בְּתֹורָתִי אִם־לֹא

Exod. 16:4  Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will be making food rain for you from the heavens, and the people shall go out and they shall gather a day’s portion every day, so that I may test it whether it will walk within My Torah or not.”

The eighth word in this verse, ~x,l, is normally translated according to context as either bread, food, or grain.  All the popular bibles I’ve examined (except one, the God’s Word translation) use the translation bread, the most common translation for this word in the bible.  Here there is no immediate clue in the context, but if we look further down in this chapter, we will find implied context which is undeniable, requiring me to translate the word as food instead of bread.  That’s because it will not be bread raining down from heaven, but manna and quail, and neither of these can be properly assumed to be bread, but only food.  Notice that the Lord says why He will provide the people’s sustenance:  In order to test their will to walk in His way.  Of course, the Lord knows the result of the test. So I believe it is not to see what happens, but is a lesson for those and future Jews.  What He provides for us on a daily basis is meant to bring us closer to Him.

וְהָיָה בַּיֹּום הַשִּׁשִּׁי וְהֵכִינוּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר־יָבִיאוּ וְהָיָה מִשְׁנֶה עַל אֲשֶׁר־יִלְקְטוּ יֹום יֹום   16:5

Exod. 16:5  “When it shall be in the sixth day, then they shall arrange what they will bring in, that it shall be twice as much as what they will have gathered daily.”

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן אֶל־כָּל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עֶרֶב וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי יְהוָה הֹוצִיא אֶתְכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם   16:6

Exod. 16:6  Then Moses said, and Aaron, to all the children of Israel, “It will be evening, and you will know that the Lord brought you out of the land of Egypt.”

וּבֹקֶר וּרְאִיתֶם אֶת־כְּבֹוד יְהוָה בְּשָׁמְעֹו אֶת־תְּלֻנֹּתֵיכֶם עַל־יְהוָה וְנַחְנוּ מָה כִּי תַלֹּונוּ עָלֵינוּ   16:7

Exod. 16:7  “Then morning, and you will see the glory of the Lord, because of His hearing your murmurings against the Lord.  Who are we that you should murmur against us?”

The next to last word in this verse is thought by the sages to have been misspelled. They claimed that the first vav should be a yad.  Once more I show myself to be presumptuous (or naive), because I believe there is no error here.  The word is correct as spelled as far as I’m concerned.

I think the language of the verse makes it sound like Moses is also complaining here.  Is he blaming the Lord for not having forestalled the murmuring?

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה בְּתֵת יְהוָה לָכֶם בָּעֶרֶב בָּשָׂר לֶאֱכֹל וְלֶחֶם בַּבֹּקֶר לִשְׂבֹּעַ בִּשְׁמֹעַ יְהוָה אֶת־תְּלֻנֹּתֵיכֶם    16:8

אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּם מַלִּינִם עָלָיו וְנַחְנוּ מָה לֹא־עָלֵינוּ תְלֻנֹּתֵיכֶם כִּי עַל־יְהוָה

Exod. 16:8  Then Moses said, “The Lord will be giving to you flesh to eat in the evening and bread in the morning to the full, because of the Lord hearing your murmurs that you were murmuring against Him.  So who are we?  Not against us should your murmurings be, but against the Lord.”

Just as I suspected above, it sounds as if Moses, while chastising the people, is also saying.  “Don’t blame me, blame the Lord.  He hasn’t been taking care of us in the manner He’s led us to expect.”

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־אַהֲרֹן אֱמֹר אֶל־כָּל־עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל קִרְבוּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה כִּי שָׁמַע אֵת תְּלֻנֹּתֵיכֶם   16:9

Exod. 16:9  Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to all the congregation of the children of Israel, ‘Draw near before the Lord, for He hears your murmurings.’”

וַיְהִי כְּדַבֵּר אַהֲרֹן אֶל כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּפְנוּ אֶל הַמִּדְבָּר וְהִנֵּה כְּבוֹד יְהוָה נִרְאָה בֶּעָנָן   16:10

Exod. 16:10   And it was, as Aaron spoke to 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.

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר   16:11

Exod. 16:11   And the Lord spoke to Moses saying,

שָׁמַעְתִּי אֶת־תְּלוּנֹּת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל דַּבֵּר אֲלֵהֶם לֵאמֹר בֵּין הָעַרְבַּיִם תֹּאכְלוּ בָשָׂר וּבַבֹּקֶר תִּשְׂבְּעוּ־   16:12

לָחֶם וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם

Exod. 16:12   “I hear the murmurings of the children of Israel.  Speak to them saying, ‘During the evening hours you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall be full of “bread,” and you shall know that I am the Lord, your God.’”

In this verse I use the translation bread for the same word that occurs in v. 16:4, which I translated as food there.  The reason is to differentiate between it and the word meaning flesh appearing in this verse.  The Lord seems to use the word here to mean bread, although it is clear from v. 16:14 (and 16:22 and 16:31) that manna was not bread.  Moses also uses the word to mean bread in v. 16:15.  It was the people who called it manna, which, as you will see, means “What is it?” 

Meanwhile all the second- and third-person pronouns in this verse are plural.  Now if I’m right in believing that the speaker is addressing the individual members of a group rather than the entire group as a whole when the plural second-person pronoun is used, the Lord is having Moses speak to each one of the children of Israel about the prospects of eating.  Each of them will know that He is the Lord, their God.  See my remarks relating to Exod. 15:26, where the scribe may be using the singular pronoun to refer to the people as one entity.                

                                                                                                                        [Return to Isai. 48:1]

וַיְהִי בָעֶרֶב וַתַּעַל הַשְּׂלָו וַתְּכַס אֶת־הַמַּחֲנֶה וּבַבֹּקֶר הָיְתָה שִׁכְבַת הַטַּל סָבִיב לַמַּחֲנֶה   16:13

Exod. 16:13   And it happened in the evening that the quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew on every side of the camp.

וַתַּעַל שִׁכְבַת הַטָּל וְהִנֵּה עַל־פְּנֵי הַמִּדְבָּר דַּק מְחֻסְפָּס דַּק כַּכְּפֹר עַל־הָאָרֶץ   16:14

Exod. 16:14   When the layer of dew rose up, then behold, on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky thing, fine as hoarfrost, on the ground.

A flaky thing, fine as hoarfrost?  As I see it, this is neither bread nor flour, but something very different.

וַיִּרְאוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמְרוּ אִישׁ אֶל־אָחִיו מָן הוּא כִּי לֹא יָדְעוּ מַה־הוּא וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֲלֵהֶם הוּא   16:15

 הַלֶּחֶם אֲשֶׁר נָתַן יְהוָה לָכֶם לְאָכְלָה

Exod. 16:15   When the children of Israel saw, then they said one to another, “What is it?”  For they did not know what it was.  Then Moses said to them, “It is the “bread” that the Lord has given to you to eat.

זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה לִקְטוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אִישׁ לְפִי אָכְלֹו עֹמֶר לַגֻּלְגֹּלֶת מִסְפַּר נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם אִישׁ   16:16

לַאֲשֶׁר בְּאָהֳלֹו תִּקָּחוּ

Exod. 16:16   “This is the thing that the Lord commands:  Gather some of it, everyone, for the portion of his food, an omer per head of the number of your persons; everyone for whoever is in his tent he shall take.”

וַיַּעֲשׂוּ־כֵן בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּלְקְטוּ הַמַּרְבֶּה וְהַמַּמְעִיט   16:17

Exod. 16:17   And the children of Israel did so, and they gathered, some more and some less.

וַיָּמֹדּוּ בָעֹמֶר וְלֹא הֶעְדִּיף הַמַּרְבֶּה וְהַמַּמְעִיט לֹא הֶחְסִיר אִישׁ לְפִי־אָכְלֹו לָקָטוּ   16:18

Exod. 16:18   But they measured by the omer and did not have a surplus; who gathered more and who gathered less did not lack; they gathered, everyone for his portion of eating.

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֲלֵהֶם אִישׁ אַל־יֹותֵר מִמֶּנּוּ עַד־בֹּקֶר   16:19

Exod. 16:19   And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until the morning.”

וְלֹא־שָׁמְעוּ אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּותִרוּ אֲנָשִׁים מִמֶּנּוּ עַד־בֹּקֶר וַיָּרֻם תֹּולָעִים וַיִּבְאַשׁ וַיִּקְצֹף עֲלֵהֶם מֹשֶׁה   16:20

Exod. 16:20   But they did not listen to Moses and individuals left some of it over until morning, and worms rose up and it smelled rotten, and Moses was angry with them.

Would this have happened to flour overnight?  I think not (unless the Lord ordained a miracle, which is entirely possible), as it was pretty chilly at night in the Sinai wilderness.

וַיִּלְקְטוּ אֹתֹו בַּבֹּקֶר בַּבֹּקֶר אִישׁ כְּפִי אָכְלֹו וְחַם הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וְנָמָס   16:21

Exod. 16:21   And they gathered it morning after morning, each one according to his portion of food.  Then the sun would become hot and it would melt away.

This verse also makes clear that manna was not bread.  Bread would have baked in the sun and become hard.  It would not melt away.

וַיְהִי בַּיֹּום הַשִּׁשִּׁי לָקְטוּ לֶחֶם מִשְׁנֶה שְׁנֵי הָעֹמֶר לָאֶחָד וַיָּבֹאוּ כָּל־נְשִׂיאֵי הָעֵדָה וַיַּגִּידוּ לְמֹשֶׁה   16:22

Exod. 16:22   And it was on the sixth day, they gathered twice as much food, two omers for each one, and all the princes of the congregation came and told to Moses.

וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם הוּא אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה שַׁבָּתֹון שַׁבַּת־קֹדֶשׁ לַיהוָה מָחָר אֵת אֲשֶׁר־תֹּאפוּ אֵפוּ וְאֵת    16:23

אֲשֶׁר־תְּבַשְּׁלוּ בַּשֵּׁלוּ וְאֵת כָּל־הָעֹדֵף הַנִּיחוּ לָכֶם לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת עַד־הַבֹּקֶר

Exod. 16:23   And he said to them, “This is what the Lord speaks:  ‘Tomorrow is a complete rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord.  Bake what you would have baked, and boil what you would have boiled, and all the remainder lay up for yourselves to preserve until the morning.’”

This is the first time that the Hebrew word !AtB'v, the seventh in the verse, normally translated as solemn rest, appears.  More >>

וַיַּנִּיחוּ אֹתֹו עַד־הַבֹּקֶר כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה מֹשֶׁה וְלֹא הִבְאִישׁ וְרִמָּה לֹא־הָיְתָה בֹּו   16:24

Exod. 16:24   And they laid it up until the morning as Moses commanded, and it did not smell bad, and there was not a worm in it.

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אִכְלֻהוּ הַיֹּום כִּי־שַׁבָּת הַיֹּום לַיהוָה הַיֹּום לֹא תִמְצָאֻהוּ בַּשָּׂדֶה   16:25

Exod. 16:25   And Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord.  Today you will not find it in the field.”

From this verse we may understand that manna was a work of the Lord, so since it is the Sabbath, there would be none today.

שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תִּלְקְטֻהוּ וּבַיֹּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לֹא יִהְיֶה־בֹּו   16:26

Exod. 16:26   “Six days you shall gather, but on the seventh day there shall be rest.  It shall not be on it.”

Verses 16:23 and 16:26 spell out the Lord’s first law of the Sabbath.  What does it say?    More >>

וַיְהִי בַּיֹּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי יָצְאוּ מִן־הָעָם לִלְקֹט וְלֹא מָצָאוּ   16:27

Exod. 16:27   And it was on the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found nothing.

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה עַד־אָנָה מֵאַנְתֶּם לִשְׁמֹר מִצְוֹתַי וְתֹורֹתָי   16:28

Exod. 16:28   And the Lord said to Moses, “How long you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws!”

Although the Lord is speaking to Moses, He is actually addressing the children of Israel.  The subject pronoun you is plural.  Of course, He may be including Moses.

Please note that the sixth word in the verse, hn"a, along with being part of an idiomatic how long when combined with the d[ before it, also has implicative meanings, among them being where, to lament, bewail, and to come about or happen.  The use of the word illuminates more than just the literal meaning of the verse.  The scribe seems to be implying that the Lord might be complaining too.  In fact, the Lord had only given 27 commandments to this point, so maybe the scribe was a little frustrated too.

רְאוּ כִּי־יְהוָה נָתַן לָכֶם הַשַּׁבָּת עַל־כֵּן הוּא נֹתֵן לָכֶם בַּיֹּום הַשִּׁשִּׁי לֶחֶם יֹומָיִם שְׁבוּ אִישׁ תַּחְתָּיו   16:29

אַל־יֵצֵא אִישׁ מִמְּקֹמֹו בַּיֹּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי

Exod. 16:29   “See that the Lord gives you the Sabbath.  Therefore on the sixth day He gives you food of two days.  Remain, everyone, in his place; let not anyone go out of his place on the seventh day.”

This must be Moses speaking now.  I believe this is not a commandment for the following reasons.  Has he added here a prohibition against leaving one’s tent on the Sabbath?  Or is he saying simply that they were not to go out to gather?  I presume the answer is the latter.  If it is the former, it would be an addition to the law by Moses that we are not told that God had commanded   It would be as if Moses had no faith in the people’s obedience, and added a prohibition that might prevent them from disobeying God’s actual command.  A fence around the Torah, so to speak.  By now we should be well aware of Moses’ distrust of the Israelites.  In Exod. 35:3 we will learn that Moses again appears to be expanding another of God’s commandments, seemingly continuing to build that fence.  The example in this verse and the one in Exod. 35:3 have something in common.  They both relate to immediate or imminent situations.  Here some Israelites chose, perhaps out of curiosity, to venture out in search of the mysterious manna.  There we will find a different circumstantial condition.  Later in Numbers and in Jeremiah we will encounter strong evidence for my contention that the prohibition expressed in this verse is being addressed to the people for this circumstance only and is not a perpetual prohibition.  My belief casts a good deal of doubt on some of the Sabbath restrictions that the sages and rabbis have derived from this verse.

                                               [Return to Exod. 35:3]                [Return to Numbers 7:89]

                                                     [Return to Jere. 17:22]                       [Return to rubincmds.org]

וַיִּשְׁבְּתוּ הָעָם בַּיֹּום הַשְּׁבִעִי   16:30

Exod. 16:30   So the people rested on the seventh day.

The verb rested is plural, whereas the subject people is singular, implying again that each of the individuals among the people rested.

וַיִּקְרְאוּ בֵית־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־שְׁמֹו מָן וְהוּא כְּזֶרַע גַּד לָבָן וְטַעְמֹו כְּצַפִּיחִת בִּדְבָשׁ  16:31

Exod. 16:31   And the house of Israel called its name Manna.  And it was like the seed of coriander, white, and its taste was like a wafer with honey.

The name manna means what is it?  Also please take note that we have here the first (but not the only) use of the term “house of Israel.”  Additionally, the verb in the first part of the verse, translated as called, is plural, implying that the individual members of the house of Israel called it by its name.  And finally, we again find additional evidence that manna was different from bread.

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה מְלֹא הָעֹמֶר מִמֶּנּוּ לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם לְמַעַן יִרְאוּ אֶת־   16:32

הַלֶּחֶם אֲשֶׁר הֶאֱכַלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בַּמִּדְבָּר בְּהֹוצִיאִי אֶתְכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם

Exod. 16:32   And Moses said, “This is the thing that the Lord commands:  Fill the omer from it, to be preserved throughout your generations, that they will see the bread which I fed you in the wilderness on My bringing you out of the land of Egypt.”

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־אַהֲרֹן קַח צִנְצֶנֶת אַחַת וְתֶן־שָׁמָּה מְלֹא־הָעֹמֶר מָן וְהַנַּח אֹתֹו לִפְנֵי יְהוָה    16:33

לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם

Exod. 16:33   And Moses said to Aaron, “Take one pot and put there the filled omer of manna and lay it up before the Lord, to be preserved throughout your generations.”

כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וַיַּנִּיחֵהוּ אַהֲרֹן לִפְנֵי הָעֵדֻת לְמִשְׁמָרֶת   16:34

Exod. 16:34   As the Lord had commanded to Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the testimony, to be preserved.

The testimony?  Is this verse referring to a later act of Aaron’s after the tabernacle had been built and the tablets had been presented to the children of Israel?  Or is it telling us that Moses was already preparing the record, perhaps the entire Torah?  I am inclined to believe it is the latter.  Moses understood that what he was involved in had eternal significance.  Why would he not record all these events as they happen?  Of course, the preserved manna was lost, possibly when the ark was lost (reported to us in 1Kings) or possibly with the destruction of the first temple.
                                                                                                 [Return to Exod. 17:14]

וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אָכְלוּ אֶת־הַמָּן אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה עַד־בֹּאָם אֶל־אֶרֶץ נֹושָׁבֶת אֶת־הַמָּן אָכְלוּ עַד־בֹּאָם   16:35

אֶל־קְצֵה אֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן

Exod. 16:35   And the children of Israel ate the manna forty years until their coming to an inhabited land.  They ate the manna until their coming to the border of the land of Canaan.

Please notice that mention of the quail is omitted here. The scribe (or perhaps Moses) tends to omit facts that are either obvious (at least to him) or unimportant in relating the intended message.

וְהָעֹמֶר עֲשִׂרִית הָאֵיפָה הוּא   16:36

Exod. 16:36   And the omer, it is a tenth of an ephah.

Now why do you suppose Moses or the scribe chose to explain this?  The reason might be that the people for whom this was written were not familiar with the measure.  Apparently they knew what the ephah was, but not necessarily the omer.  Alternatively, the sages conjectured that the reason was to show that the measure was sufficient to satisfy everyone.  If the latter reason appeals to you, accept it.  I find it hard to, because why would the people have to be reassured if they had already eaten the manna and knew it was sufficient for them?  Are future generations being reassured?  Hard for me to accept that as well.

Torah Commandments in this Chapter

26. On the day before the Sabbath you shall prepare food for two days.    V. 16:23

27. You shall not prepare food on the Sabbath.    V. 16:23

28. (Not a commandment) Let no one go out of his place on the Sabbath.    V. 16:29

 

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