Exodus 16 Commentary

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Summary Chart of
The Book of Exodus
Redemption from Egypt
Ex 1:1-18:27
Revelation from God
Ex 19:1-40:38
Getting Israel Out of Egypt Getting Egypt Out of Israel!
Narration Legislation
Birth of
Ex 1-2
Call of
Ex 3-6
Conflict with Pharaoh
Ex 7-10
Ex 11-12
Ex 13-15
Ex 16-18
Ex 19-24
Ex 25-31
Ex 32-34
Ex 35-40
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of People of God
of God
of God
Moses and
Burdens of Israel
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Plagues Upon Egypt
Red Sea
and Oppression
and Provision
Law Pattern
and Construction
Israel in Egypt
Ex 1:1-13:16
Israel to Sinai
Ex 13:17-18:27
Israel at Sinai
Ex 19:1-40:38
God's People
God's Grace
in Redemption
God's Glory
in Worship
430 Years

(15% of Exodus)
2 Months

(30% of Exodus)
Mt Sinai
10 Months

(55% of Exodus)
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human effort and failure divine power and triumph
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(from Believer's Study Bible)

Exodus 16:1  Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt.

  • Then they set out - Ex 15:27 Nu 33:10-12 
  • Ex 17:1 Nu 33:12 Eze 30:15,16
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Wilderness of Sin (See Red Marker)
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Then they set out from Elim Then marks progression in their journey. From the plentiful supply of 12 springs and 70 date palms they travel to the wilderness of Sin

Currid points out that "According to Numbers 33:10, after the Hebrews left Elim they then returned to camp by the yăm sûph (Red Sea). In other words, the people had passed through the Red Sea, had encamped at Marah and Elim, and now they set up camp at a more southerly place next to the Red Sea.  (EPSC-Ex)

and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai - Wilderness of Sin” has nothing to do with sin. See possible location on map above. Most observers feel Sin was located to the South and South-East of Elim (as shown on the map).. We read in Ex 17:1 "Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim (SHOWN ON MAP FURTHER SOUTH), and there was no water for the people to drink."

THOUGHT - While the name Wilderness of Sin has no specific moral meaning, as it turned out, the location had a lot to do with the sin of grumbling! 

On the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt - This is right at one month after leaving Egypt, since they left on the fifteenth of the previous month (see Exodus 12:6, 18, 31). Kaiser adds that "Since Numbers 33:5–11 mentions only seven places of encampment and only one journey of three days’ duration (Exod 15:22), it is evident that either Israel stayed at several of these places for a number of days or that they camped in a number of other unmentioned places or areas without distinctive names." (EBC)

John Currid - In the final verse of that chapter (Ex 15:27) we viewed a people who must have been quite content at the site of Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy date palms. All was well with Israel—or was it? Unfortunately, the writer brings us back to the refrain of the wanderings—the faithlessness of Israel. The Israelites move from a period of ecstatic joy (at the Red Sea) to a phase of unbelief, grumbling and murmuring (at Marah). What was it that brought the Hebrews to so great a depression in so little time? They were living by sight, and not by faith. At Marah they ran into a material problem, and they responded unfaithfully. But, again, let us not judge them too harshly, because—oh, how like the Israelites we are!

Phillip Ryken - Whining was Israel’s besetting sin. It started when Moses first went to Pharaoh and the Israelites complained that he was making their job harder instead of easier. They grumbled at the Red Sea, where they accused Moses of bringing them out to die in the desert. They were even more bitter at Marah, but the complaining didn’t stop there. The Israelites wandered for forty years, and they grumbled their way through most of it. By the time they reached the Desert of Sin, they were an entire nation of malcontents. (PW-Ex)

ILLUSTRATION - Start with a basic two-door sedan loaded with luggage for a vacation trip. Add a father, mother, and three children under the age of ten. Aim the car at an objective that is 500 miles down the road. After 350 miles have passed, examine the scene. What is the condition of what has become a traveling circus? Pretty discouraging? Now, magnify that situation thousands of times over, move it back some 3,500 years, eliminate the automobile, and you will begin to understand Moses’ predicament in Exodus 16. The thrill of freedom and the excitement of the exodus were soon erased by the discomforts of travel. Gratitude usually gives way to grumbling.


We need to come out of the wilderness because:
  1.      There Is Always a Place Called Sin in the Wilderness
  2.      Religious Leadership Is Often Defied in the Wilderness
  3.      The Wilderness Can Cause Us to Lose Sight of Our Goal
  4.      The Promised Land Is Beyond the Wilderness


  1.      The Wilderness Experience Is a Dangerous Experience
  2.      The Wilderness Experience Is a Necessary Experience
  3.      The Wilderness Experience Shapes Us for the Promised Land

Robert Hawker - Poor Man's Evening Portion - The wilderness of Zin.—Exodus 16:1.

My soul! thou art still in a wilderness state, not yet arrived home to thy Father’s house; and thou art frequently exercised with wilderness dispensations. Perhaps, under the Spirit’s teaching, an evening’s meditation on the wilderness of Zin, where Israel sojourned, will be profitable to thee. Let faith lead thee thither, and see what subjects are there opened before thee. Was there ever an instance like Israel, brought out with a high hand, and stretched out arm, from the tyranny of Egypt? Did the sea open for them to march through; and that memorable spot, which to them became the way of salvation, become to their enemies that pursued them, the pit of destruction? Did the Lord go before them in a pillar of cloud by day, and cover them from danger by the pillar of fire by night? After such miracles, yea, in the moment of receiving the same continuance of divine favour, while on their way to Canaan, what was there in the people’s passing through the wilderness of Zin, that should have discomposed their minds, or made them call in question God’s faithfulness, and his love?—Thou knowest, my soul, what the scripture hath recorded of the events of the wilderness to Israel. Though their history furnisheth a continued series of the Lord’s mercies over them, yet, on their part, little else can be found but rebellion, unthankfulness, and sin.—Pause, and let the apostle’s question have its full weight upon thee. “What then?” saith he, “are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved, both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.”—Was there ever an instance of grace like this, my soul, so great, so distinguishing, so abounding, when the Lord found thee in the Egypt of thy fallen nature, and when he brought thee out with a sovereign hand? Did Jesus open to thee a new and living way through his blood? And dost thou not know, that his cross, which is thy glory, and thy salvation, will be the condemnation of all the enemies who despise it? Is thy Lord leading thee, going before thee, and following thee, in grace, and goodness, and mercy, all the days of thy life, like the pillar of cloud, and the pillar of fire to Israel, and bringing thee by a right way to a “city of habitation?” Are these among the daily manifestations of thy Lord? And shall thy passage (for thou knowest that it is but a passage) through the wilderness of Zin, make thee for a moment lose sight of Jesus? True, thou art exercised; and thine exercises appear to thee so peculiarly distressing, as if no one of God’s people before had ever been so circumstanced. But in them thou shouldst mark the wisdom, as well as the love, of him that appoints them. Didst thou trace Jesus in all, thou wouldst find a sanctified blessing in all; and the issue of the heaviest trials would then bring in an exact proportion of the sweetest comforts. It is because they are peculiar, that they are suited to thee. There are numberless things which occur in the exercises of thy brethren, which, to thee, would be no exercises at all. They feel them, and know their pressure, and the love of Jesus in sending them, and the tenderness of Jesus in helping them under them, and bringing them out of them: all these things thou seest and knowest in others, and findest cause both to admire and to adore the divine faithfulness in the dispensations. But in the study and improvement of the exercises in thine own heart, which, of all others, is the most important, here thou failest. And yet thou art convinced, in a cool hour, when grace is alive, that if a synod of angels were to arrange the circumstances of thy state, they could not order them with the wisdom and love that they are now ordered with. Go then, my soul, go by faith, frequently to the wilderness of Zin. Look at Israel’s history, and look up for wisdom to gather suitable instruction. Behold Jesus in every dispensation. Whatever tends to lead thee to him, must be blessed. It is impossible that any trial, be it what it may, can be otherwise than blessed, which opens to the view Jesus therein, and endears and makes Jesus precious thereby. And, my soul, while I wish thee frequently to go by solemn meditation to the wilderness of Zin, let each renewed visit remind thee, that thou art getting through it. Like children at school, every day brings on the festival which will take us home to our Father’s house. A few steps more, a few exercises more, and Jesus will send his chariot for us; yea, he will come himself to fetch us; and we shall take an everlasting farewell both of the wilderness of Zin and this world of sorrow together. “Haste, haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart, upon the mountain of spices!”

D A Carson - THE CLOSING VERSES OF Exodus 15 are a harbinger of things to come. Despite the miraculous interventions by God that characterized their escape from Egypt, the people do not really trust him; the first bit of hardship turns to whining and complaining. Exodus 16 carries the story further, and shows that this muttering is linked, at several levels, to overt defiance of the living God.

We need not imagine that the Israelites were not hungry; of course they were. The question is what they did about it. They might have turned to God in prayer and asked him to supply all their needs. As he had effected their rescue so dramatically, would he not also provide for them? But instead they sarcastically romanticize their experience of slavery (!) in Egypt (Ex 16:3), and grumble against Moses and Aaron (Ex 16:2).

Moses might have felt miffed at the sheer ingratitude of the people. Wisely, he recognizes its real focus and evil. Although they grumble against Moses and Aaron, their real complaint is against God himself (Ex 16:7–8): “You are not grumbling against us, but against the LORD.”

In all this, the Lord is still forbearing. As he turned the bitter waters of Marah into sweetness (Ex 15:22–26), so he now provides them with meat in the form of quail, and with manna. This frankly miraculous provision not only meets their need, but is granted so that they “will see the glory of the LORD” (Ex 16:7). “Then you will know that I am the LORD your God” (Ex 16:12). Further, the Lord says, “I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions” (Ex 16:4).

Unfortunately, not a few in the community fail the test miserably. They try to hoard manna when they are told not to; they try to gather manna when, on the Sabbath, none is provided. Moses is frankly angry with them (16:20); the Lord himself challenges this chronic disobedience (Ex 16:28).

Why should people who have witnessed so spectacular a display of the grace and power of God slip so easily into muttering and complaining and slide so gracelessly into listless disobedience? The answer lies in the fact that many of them see God as existing to serve them. He served them in the Exodus; he served them when he provided clean water. Now he must serve not only their needs but their appetites. Otherwise they are entirely prepared to abandon him. While Moses has been insisting to Pharaoh that the people needed to retreat into the desert in order to serve and worship God, the people themselves think God exists to serve them.

The fundamental question is, “Who is the real God?” New covenant believers face the same choice (1 Cor. 10:10).(For the Love of God)

Exodus 16:1-5 A Hill Too High

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. —Matthew 6:34

My wife and I like to rollerblade. Near the end of one of our favorite routes is a long hill. When we first started taking this route, I tried to encourage Sue by saying, “Are you ready for the hill?” just before pushing our way to the top. But one day she said, “Could you please not say that? You make it sound like a huge mountain, and that discourages me.”

It was better for Sue to face the hill thinking only about one “step,” or one rollerblade push, at a time instead of an entire steep hill to conquer.

Life can be like that. If we peer too far ahead of today, the challenges may feel like a Mt. Everest climb. They can appear impossible to handle if we think we have to be “ready for the hill.”

The Bible reminds us that today is all we need to tackle. We don’t need to worry about tomorrow’s tasks (Matt. 6:34). Imagine Moses thinking, “I’ve got to feed all these people for who knows how long. How can I get that much food?” God took care of that mountain with manna—but only enough for one day at a time (Ex. 16:4).

Every hill in life is too high if we think we must climb it all at once. But no hill is insurmountable if we take it one step forward at a time—with God’s help. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

God is there to give us strength for every hill we have to climb.

Exodus 16:2  The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.

  • Grumbled - Ex 14:12 15:24 Ex 16:2, 7-9,12 Ex 17:3 Nu 11:1 Dt 14:2, 27,29, 36 Dt 16:11, 41 Dt 17:5 Dt 1:27 Dt 9:8,22 Josh 9:18 Ps 59:15 Ps 106:25 Lk 5:30 Lk 15:2 Lk 19:7 Jn 6:41-43,61 1Co 10:10 Php 2:14 Jude 1:16
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


The whole congregation of the sons of Israel - Whole is probably a hyperbole but the point is that the majority grumbled, whereas in Ex 15:24 it was stated "the people" so the grumbling seems less widespread there. But beloved, grumbling is like leaven, for once it starts in a congregation it tends to spread (a lot like gossip), so now we have the whole congregation! And now they are attacking not just Moses but also Aaron!

Spurgeon - They have been only about six weeks in the wilderness, and already they are up in arms against their leaders. Remember that we have the same kind of people to deal with as Moses and Aaron had. The children of Israel were no better than any other nation; and I do not think they were any worse. We may take them as a fair average of human nature, which is a discontented, rebellious thing in the best of circumstances.

When we complain against Christian leaders who are serving Christ faithfully,
we must understand that we are actually complaining against God.
-- Gene Getz

Grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness - At least Moses had someone to share the blame with! Ultimately of course they were grumbling against God. Notice that they are in the wilderness! They are no longer by the springs and the date palms of Elim, but in the arid, desolate desert where human life cannot be long sustained. And they were there because God led them there! The reason they are in all this awful, hard, difficult, dangerous, and uncomfortable place is because God led them there as part of His sovereign plan for them. And why were they there? Moses tells us in Deut 8:2-5 that they did not know their own heart - the wilderness was for their education, their counseling, their training. They needed time to get slavery out of the people, even though the people were out of slavery. Stated another way, God had gotten them completely out of Egypt, but would spend the next 40 years (and really even the time after that) getting Egypt out of them. Yahweh had gotten them out and was preparing their hearts to take them in (to the promised land). "You can take the person out of slavery in a moment, but you can’t take the slavery out of the person." (Keller)

“You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you (HE MADE THEM HUNGER AND THIRST), testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 “ He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. 4“ Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 “Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.

Tim Keller - Moses is saying, “In the physical wilderness, manna was the physical sustenance God gave, but it points to the fact in the personal wilderness, the spiritual wilderness, the emotional wilderness (the sort of wildernesses people in this room are going through now or will go through soon), the manna points to the spiritual strength which comes to us through …” What? What did Moses say the manna represents? “… every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” What that means is you have to learn to turn truth into bread. In the wilderness times, that’s the time to turn truth into bread. What is every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord? The Bible. The Scripture. The words of the prophets, the apostles, and so on. You may believe it. It’s cognitive. It’s truth you subscribe to, but Moses says in the times of wilderness, you have to turn it into food. You have to chew it. You have to digest it. You have to work it into your system. You have to taste it. In other words, you have to think. That’s why we call it thoughtful strength. God’s strength in the times of wilderness is a thinking strength. It’s not a stupid strength. (Food in the Desert)

  I asked the Lord that I might grow
  In faith, and love, and every grace
  Might more of his salvation know
  And seek, more earnestly, his face

  I hoped that in some favored hour
  At once he’d answer my request
  And by his love’s constraining power
  Subdue my sins, and give me rest

  Instead of this, he made me feel
  The hidden evils of my heart
  And let the angry powers of hell
  Assault my soul in every part

  Lord, why is this, I trembling cried
  Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
  ‘Tis in this way, the Lord replied
  I answer prayer for grace and faith

  These inward trials I employ
  From self, and pride, to set thee free
  And break thy schemes of earthly joy
  That thou may’st find thy all in me

Guzik - They lost sight of God’s future for them, and they also twisted the past to support their complaining. This thinking is common among those who complain. (ED COMMENT - THAT MAY BE ONE REASON THE NT REFERS TO THE SECOND COMING IN 1 OF EVERY 20-25 VERSES!)

Currid - Although the assault is directed at Moses and Aaron, in the final analysis the Hebrews are grumbling against Yahweh. They doubt God’s care for them and thus cast aspersions on his power. These facts result in hostile opposition to his leaders in whom he has invested authority. 

Jack Arnold - The Jews had no reason to question God’s faithfulness and goodness, but they did because their eyes were on self rather than God. The Isra­elites, instead of having a stronger faith, actually retrogressed. Because of unbelief, their faith grew weaker instead of stronger. Whenever these Jews encountered a problem, they grumbled, showing their inability to trust God for the future. (Sermon)

THOUGHT - The lust for more will always bring the Christian into a state of complaining, for it is impossible ever to have enough when we desire to have God meet our wants rather than our needs. The lust for more can never be satisfied....A Christian who complains all the time is just like the children of Israel. He has forgotten the great things God has done for him in salvation. A complainer is al­ways short on memory of God’s faithfulness in the past. Just as Israel had been de­livered by God, protected by God, and blessed by God and had forgotten it all after thirty days, so the Christian can have a very great lapse in memory about God’s grace in his life. (Sermon)

Ps 78:17-19 Yet they still continued to sin against Him, To rebel against the Most High in the desert.  18 And in their heart they put God to the test By asking food according to their desire.  19 Then they spoke against God; They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? 

Steven Cole - Although grumbling is usually against some individual or especially against the leaders, it really is against the Lord (Exod. 16:2, 7, 8), who hears it all (four times: Exod. 16:7, 8, 9, 12). Of course, there is a proper way to bring legitimate concerns to church leaders. We’re not perfect leaders and this isn’t a perfect church, so if there is a problem, we need to know about it. But grumblers, as I said, reveal the state of their hearts. They aren’t looking for solutions; they’re just venting. In Exodus 15, their complaint was bitter water. God met that need. In chapter 16, it’s no food. The Lord rained bread from heaven. In chapter 17, it will again be no water. The Lord provides water from the rock. But the people kept on grumbling. So if you’re tempted to grumble, check your heart and be on guard because it spreads and contaminates many.

Rod Mattoon - At the root of their murmuring was a distrust and unsubmissiveness toward God's goodness, power, and will. The root meaning of the Hebrew word translated "murmur" in our text is "to show oneself obstinate, to be stubborn." Murmuring is, therefore, a symptom of rebellion. Numbers 14 records a serious murmuring problem which brings out the rebellion aspect of murmuring very clearly. There the Israelites rebelled against the command to enter Canaan and wanted instead someone to replace Moses to lead them back to Egypt. Numbers 14:2-4-=. Here in Exodus 16, their complaint against Moses was a camouflaged complaint against the Lord Himself. (Ex 16:8)

Grumbled (murmured) (03885)(lun) is a word that has two meaning that are very different. In Exodus 17:3 the meaning is clearly grumble or murmur (see below for the 15 uses of lun translated with the sense of grumble in NAS). One use means to lodge, spend the night, abide (see those uses here). We are concerned with the meaning to grumble or murmur. Lûn in the Niphal, the verb carries the thought of being "obstinate" or "stubborn," from the idea of "remaining" or "persisting" in a negative sense. Hence, there is a resultant definition of "grumbling" or "complaining." 

The Septuagint translates lun with the verb gogguzo  which means to murmurmutter, make complaining remarks or noises under one's breath. Gogguzo is an onomatopoeic word derived from the sound made when murmuring or muttering in a low and indistinct voice with the idea of complaint. 

All uses of lun - Ex 15:24; Ex 16:2; Ex 16:7; Ex 16:8; Ex 17:3; Nu 14:2; Nu 14:27; Nu 14:29; Nu 14:36; Nu 16:11; Nu 16:41; Nu 17:5; Jos. 9:18; Ps. 59:15

The NT commands believers NOT to grumble...this is IM-possible in our strength, but it HIM-possible as we learn to rely on the Spirit (filled with the Spirit - Eph 5:18+)....

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out (present imperative   see our need to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey) your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God Who (THE HOLY SPIRIT) is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 14 Do (present imperative   see our need to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey) all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, (Phil 2:12-15+)

Comment - If there was ever a command that was impossible to keep it is to not grumble about anything! And it is in the present tense calling for this to be our continual practice! Here is where context is critical for accurate interpretation (and in this case GREAT RELIEF). Remembering that God's commandments always include His enablements, we look back at Phil 2:13NLT+ and in that paraphrase see that it is God in us (the Spirit of Christ) continually giving us (energizing) the DESIRE and the POWER to do what pleases Him! 

Related Resources:

Rod Mattoon's insights on Murmuring - 

1. At the root of their murmuring was a distrust and unsubmissiveness toward God's goodness, power, and will.

2. Murmuring indicated they were forgetful and ungrateful for God's previous blessings and provision.

3. Murmuring expresses itself in false accusations and undeserved reproaches.

4. Murmuring sidetracks us from effective solutions to our problems.

Antonyms for grumbling

  • abiding,
  • enduring,
  • forbearing,
  • patient,
  • tolerant ,
  • accepting,
  • forgiving,
  • long-suffering,
  • resigned,
  • uncomplaining,
  • willing

Antidotes for Grumbling

1. List daily the ways that God benefits your life. Gratefulness involves daily alertness.

2. Recall God's help in a crisis.

3. Turn your gratefulness into a song. Write out a document of gratefulness to Him and make it your "life song" to the Lord.

4. Give thanks even for the hardships of life.

5. Thank God when you are not thankful. Thanking Him is an act of obedience to His will. (See 1 Th 5:18+)

6. Tell the Lord how He has benefited you.

Quotations on Murmuring - 

The frog and the murmurer, both of them are bred of the mud. - Thomas Adams

A grouch always looks as if he were weaned on a pickle. - Anon.

Discontent generally arises more from our desires than from our wants. - Anon.

It is better to be mute than to murmur. - Thomas Brooks

Murmuring is a time-destroying sin. - Thomas Brooks

Murmuring uncrowns a man. - Thomas Brooks

Oh, that we could but convince men that a murmuring spirit is a greater evil than any affliction, whatever the affliction! - Jeremiah Burroughs

Complain to God you may, but to complain of God, you may not. - John Flavel

If we growl all day we shouldn’t be surprised if we end up dog tired at night! - Vance Havner

One hour in heaven and we shall be ashamed we ever grumbled. - Vance Havner

Those who complain most are most to be complained of. - Matthew Henry

Complaining about our lot in life might seem quite innocent in itself, but God takes it personally. - Erwin W. Lutzer

God’s people may groan, but they may not grumble. - C. H. Spurgeon

Ten minutes’ praying is better than a year’s murmuring. - C. H. Spurgeon

The murmurer is his own martyr. - George Swinnock

Complain without cause and you will have cause to complain. - Thomas Taylor

Murmuring often ends in cursing. - Thomas Watson

Our murmuring is the devil’s music. - Thomas Watson
(Source - Complete Gathered Gold)


Forbidden 1 Corinthians 10:10 ; Philippians 2:14


  • God Proverbs 19:3 Exodus 5:22,23 ; 16:8,12 ; Numbers 14:26-37 ; 17:10,11 ; Job 15:11-13 ; 33:12,13 ; 34:37 ; Psalm 37:1 ; 44:9-26 ; 73:13-22 ; 78:17-21 ; Proverbs 19:3 ; Ecclesiastes 7:10 ; Jeremiah 15:10 ; Lamentations 3:39 ; Malachi 3:14 ; Luke 10:40 ; Romans 9:19,20 ; 1 Corinthians 10:10 ; Philippians 2:14 ; James 5:9 ; Jude 1:16
  • The sovereignty of God Romans 9:19,20
  • The service of God Malachi 3:14
  • Christ Luke 5:30 ; 15:2 ; 19:7 ; John 6:41-43,52
  • Ministers of God Exodus 17:3 ; Numbers 16:41
  • Disciples of Christ Matthew 7:2 ; Luke 5:30 ; 6:2

Unreasonableness of Lamentations 3:39

Tempts God Exodus 17:2

Provokes God Numbers 14:2,11 ; Deuteronomy 9:8,22

Saints cease from Isaiah 29:23,24

Characteristic of the wicked Jude 1:16

Guilt of encouraging others in Numbers 13:31-33 ; 14:36,37

Punishment of Numbers 11:1 ; 14:27-29 ; 16:45,46 ; Psalm 106:25,26

Illustrated Matthew 20:11 ; Luke 15:29,30


  • Cain Genesis 4:13,14
  • Moses Exodus 5:22,23
  • Israelites Exodus 14:11 ; 15:24 ; 16:2 ; 17:2,3 ; Numbers 11:1-4 ; 21:5
  • Aaron, &c Numbers 12:1,2,8
  • Korah &c Numbers 16:3
  • Elijah 1 Kings 19:4
  • Job Job 3:1-26
  • Jeremiah Jeremiah 20:14-18
  • Jonah Jonah 4:8,9
  • Disciples Mark 14:4,5 ; John 6:61
  • Pharisees Luke 15:2 ; 19:7
  • Jews John 6:41-43
  • Grecians Acts 6:1

Exodus 16:2-3 Selective Memories by Dr. Woodrow Kroll

Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, "Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."

Selective Memories - It's amazing how we are able to pick and choose the things we want to remember. A young boy was confronted by his father about the poor grades on his report card. "It's not my fault, Dad. I can't remember anything." "Well," his father assured him, "you're not going to any more baseball games until you get your grades up. And to begin with, forget tonight's game." "Wait a minute," said the boy. "You can't do that to me. The Braves are in town and Maddux is pitching. He was 15-11 last year with a 2.72 earned run average. He won four consecutive Cy Young awards and seven straight Gold Gloves. He led the league in ERA for three straight seasons, has been on five All-Star teams, and has won at least 15 games each of the last nine years."

Israel had the same problem--a selective memory. After only a short time in the wilderness, they had forgotten how they were required to make bricks without straw, how they had been beaten by merciless taskmasters and how the midwives were commanded to kill the infant Israelite boys to appease Pharaoh's fears. Instead, they remembered only the pots of meat and the loaves of bread they had enjoyed.

Satan may be tempting you in the same way. Maybe this new life is more difficult than you expected and your days as an unbeliever, as your now remember them, are looking pretty good after all. Perhaps the devil is reminding you of the sinful things you enjoyed in your old life and blocking the memories of despair and emptiness you felt as an unbeliever. Ask God to cut through these selective memories and help you recall the reality of the past. Don't be fooled by Satan's selective memories.

The memories Satan selects never reflect the way it really was.


"Then the whole congregation... murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness" (Exodus 16:2).

Fred Grimm, a Christian probation officer, told of a father who made a scapegoat of his son by blaming him for family conflicts. Although the man and his wife had been fighting for years, the father told his son, "It's always because of your big mouth that your mother and I fight. If I leave you and your mother, it will be your fault." The youngster's problems were compounded when the father died suddenly from a stroke and the mother accused her son of having caused his father's death. The boy was devastated.

Blaming others for our problems is not only unjust and cruel, it's displeasing to the Lord. The children of Israel did this in the wilder­ness shortly after their deliverance from the land of Egypt. When food and water were short, they panicked and blamed Moses and Aaron for getting them into their predicament. They made scapegoats of their leaders. Yet God mercifully overlooked their lack of faith and unfair criticism of His servants in those two incidents. Later, though, when the Israelites committed the same sin again, He judged them severely (see Numbers 16:1ff).

Scapegoating can do great damage. Instead of looking for someone else to blame for our problems, we need to analyze our situation, acknowledge our failures, and ask God for forgiveness and help.—H. V. Lugt 

We won't get closer to God by passing judgment on others.

Exodus 16:1-8 On Listening

By Julie Ackerman Link

Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. —Ecclesiastes 5:2

God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason,” the saying goes. The ability to listen is an essential life skill. Counselors tell us to listen to each other. Spiritual leaders tell us to listen to God. But hardly anyone says, “Listen to yourself.” I’m not suggesting that we have an inner voice that always knows the right thing to say. Nor am I saying we should listen to ourselves instead of to God and others. I’m suggesting that we need to listen to ourselves in order to learn how others might be receiving our words.

The Israelites could have used this advice when Moses was leading them out of Egypt. Within days of their miraculous deliverance, they were complaining (Ex. 16:2). Although their need for food was legitimate, their way of expressing the need was not (v.3).

Whenever we speak out of fear, anger, ignorance, or pride—even if what we say is true—those who listen will hear more than our words. They hear emotion. But they don’t know whether the emotion comes from love and concern or disdain and disrespect, so we risk misunderstanding. If we listen to ourselves before speaking out loud, we can judge our hearts before our careless words harm others or sadden our God.

Lord, help me to think before I speak, to check my heart. Help me to control my tongue and to express myself clearly so that I won’t cause dissension. Set a guard on my lips. Words spoken rashly do more harm than good. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

G Campbell Morgan - The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured. Ex. 16.2.
What a startling change from the song of yesterday! Therein the human heart is revealed. It seems incredible that so soon they should have descended from the height of glorious song, to the level of mean murmuring. Yet so it was, and so often still it is. What had happened? Had God changed? Was He not still the glorious King? Or had they encountered some enemy more powerful than Pharaoh, some obstacle more impossible to overcome than the sea? No, none of these things had happened. They were hungry! That was all. It is very mean and unworthy. Had they forgotten God? No, not wholly, but they were allowing the near, and the trivial, to make them for the moment unmindful of Him. This is a very revealing story. Again and again, indeed almost invariably, when the people of God are found murmuring, it is over some experience through which they are called to pass, which is of the most trivial nature by comparison with the great things of life. This kind of thing spreads. Notice that the whole congregation joined in the unworthy business. Unanimity is not always proof of wisdom or of rightness. In an hour when the prevailing mood is that of dissatisfaction, it is a good thing if some lonely singer celebrates the Lord in song. We may at least be perfectly assured that unanimous murmuring, whenever we hear it, is wholly wrong. Therefore let each one refuse to join therein. If singing is impossible, let there at least be silence. That is always better than murmuring. The sequel shows how unnecessary the murmuring was. It always is.

Question: "What is the Wilderness of Sin?"

Answer: The Wilderness of Sin is a dry, sandy, wasteland in the southwestern part of the Sinai Peninsula—assuming that’s where Mount Sinai is located. The people of Israel entered the Wilderness of Sin not long after leaving Egypt on their journey to the Promised Land (Exodus 16:1).

The Wilderness of Sin is one of six wildernesses through which the Israelites traveled on their way to Canaan. The wildernesses include Shur, Etham, Sin, Sinai, Paran, and Zin. The Wilderness of Sin is sometimes confused with the Wilderness of Zin, a region on the northwestern side of the Sinai Peninsula. The Israelites traversed the Wilderness of Sin at the beginning of the exodus, arriving at the Wilderness of Sin “on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt” (Exodus 16:1). They did not enter the Wilderness of Zin until a year later.

Located between the oasis of Elim and Mount Sinai, the Wilderness of Sin is mentioned only four times in the Bible, all in connection with the exodus from Egypt. Immediately upon arrival in the desolate Wilderness of Sin, the whole community of Israelites began to grumble and complain to Moses and Aaron about the lack of food: “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” (Exodus 16:3).

God heard their murmurings, for it was in the Wilderness of Sin that He first provided “bread from heaven” in the form of manna. The manna appeared each morning after the dew dried as “thin flakes like frost on the ground” (Exodus 16:14). It was white and tasted like coriander seed (verse 31). Each person was to gather just what he or she needed for that day and a double portion on the day before the Sabbath (verses 16, 22). The manna could be baked into cakes or boiled in pots (verse 23). God also sent the Israelites quail in the Wilderness of Sin (verses 12–13).

In Exodus 17:1, the people of Israel set out from the Wilderness of Sin in stages, arriving next in Rephidim, where there was no water to drink. The people complained again, and God brought water from the rock (verses 2–7). The only other mention of the Wilderness of Sin is in the book of Numbers as part of the journal Moses kept detailing the Israelite journey from Egypt to their campsite in Moab (Numbers 33:11–12).

The Wilderness of Sin is also called the Desert of Sin. The name Sin has no relation to the English word sin. It is merely the name of the region, although its similarity to the name Sinai and its proximity to Sinai suggest a possible connection. The area may have derived its name from the ancient moon god Sin who was worshiped by desert dwellers. (Source: Gotquestions.org)

Exodus 16:3  The sons of Israel said to them, "Would that we had died by the LORD'S hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."

Currid -= And the children of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the hand of Yahweh in the land of Egypt when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full—because you have brought us forth to this wilderness to kill all this assembly with hunger.’

NET  Exodus 16:3 The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this desert to kill this whole assembly with hunger!"

NLT  Exodus 16:3 "If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt," they moaned. "There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death."

KJV  Exodus 16:3 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 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. 

  • Would - Nu 20:3-5 De 28:67 Jos 7:7 2Sa 18:33 La 4:9 Ac 26:29 1Co 4:8 2Co 11:1 
  • we had - Nu 11:15 14:2 Job 3:1,10,20 Jer 20:14-18 Jon 4:8,9 
  • pots of meat - Ex 2:23 Nu 11:4,5 
  • to kill - Ex 5:21 17:3 Nu 16:13,41 
  • hunger - De 8:3 Jer 2:6 La 4:9 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Moses had killed an Egyptians and was then accused of intent to murder a fellow Hebrew in Ex 2:14+, which resulted in him fleeing Egypt and spending 40 years as a shepherd. Now he is accused of murder again by his own people. 

Ryken - In verse 3 they complained about their meal plan. But what seems to have come first was the complaining itself, evidence of a grumbling spirit. Our complaints really are never caused by our outward circumstances. Instead they reveal the inward condition of our hearts. The Scripture says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4). Our joy in the Lord should not be circumstantial but fundamental. (Ibid)

The sons of Israel said to them, "Would that we had died by the LORD'S hand in the land of Egypt - NLT = "If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt," they moaned." What are they saying? It would have been better if we had died in Egypt!!! At least we would have died well-fed!

Currid - The very hand that had destroyed the Egyptians (Ex 15:6, 12 - ED: THEY HAD JUST SUNG ABOUT HIS POWERFUL HAND DELIVERING AND NOW WANT TO DIE BY IT!) and that had delivered Israel is now blamed because it did not destroy Israel!

Kaiser - Suddenly Egypt seemed all peaches and cream (actually pots of meat and all you could eat—in their idiom) rather than bondage and slave drivers. With a twisted piety and a condescending reference to Yahweh’s name, the Israelites pretended that they would have preferred being victims at God’s hand in Egypt to being the recipients of so many miracles—and all this hardship. (EBC)

Steven Cole - Grumblers often exaggerate how good life was when they were enslaved to sin and don’t see the eternal benefits of trusting in God. The grumblers compared their lack of food in the wilderness with the pots of meat and bread to the full that they enjoyed in Egypt (Exod. 16:3). Hello? They were slaves in Egypt, but they make it sound as if things were great back then! But life wasn’t as idyllic as they’re making it sound! But, let’s assume for the sake of argument, that life was smoother when you were an unbeliever. Maybe your job was going well, but when you became a Christian, you got fired and now are in a crummy job or no job. Maybe your romantic life was satisfying, but now you can’t find a suitable Christian girl or guy to date. Maybe your relationship with your parents was okay back then, but now it’s strained. You feel like life was a lot better back then and you’re tempted to “go back to Egypt”! Does the Bible address that situation? Read Psalm 73! The psalmist was despairing as he saw the prosperity of the wicked, while he was encountering new problems every day since he had begun to follow the Lord. He says that he almost stumbled, until he went into the sanctuary of God. There he gained the eternal focus: He realized that God would cast down the wicked to destruction, but He would receive the psalmist into eternal glory. So if you’re grumbling and tempted to go back to the world, get to “the sanctuary.” Get alone with God and His Word and regain the eternal perspective! God leads you into places of need so that you will look to Him to meet those needs.

Wiersbe - They said they wished the Lord had killed them in Egypt when they were full rather than in the desert when they were empty! Little did these Israelites know that they would one day get their request, for the entire older generation would die in the wilderness and never get to the Promised Land.

ESV Study Bible - The theme by the hand of the LORD describes how the Lord delivered Israel (see 6:1; 7:4–5; 13:3). When the people of Israel wish that they had died by his hand rather than being delivered by it, they show that they have not understood what his power on their behalf reveals about his person and the fulfillment of his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This incident is not the first time they have longed for what they had in Egypt (see 14:12), and it foreshadows another such incident during the period of wandering in the wilderness (see Num. 20:3–5).

Tim Keller writes "What you see in verse 3 is very important. It is the language of addiction. It’s the language of denial. When they were actually in Egypt, when they were actually under the lash, they hated it. They cried out against it. They were miserable, and now they’re out of there, and yet you see, when they think back about Egypt, they remember it fondly. They think of it as something good. They think of it as something desirable. They think of it as something they wouldn’t mind going back to. That is the language of addiction, in that they’re still addicted. When you think back into your addiction, when you think back into that situation with the delusional thinking that screens out all the misery and says, “That really wasn’t so bad,” even though they were technically out of slavery, in their hearts internally, in their spirits they were still slaves. This leads us to a principle. You can get people out of slavery in an instant. Zap! It happens like that. They cross the Red Sea. It’s a legal thing. It’s a political thing. It’s a military thing. You can get people out of slavery in an instant, but you can’t get the slavery out of people except through a long process. You can get the people out of slavery quickly, immediately, but you can’t get the slavery out of the people quickly. It takes a process. Though legally they were free, actually they hadn’t learned how to be and think and work out their liberation into their lives, and that’s the reason why they don’t go right to the Promised Land, and Moses knows that.

Egyptian Flesh-Pot

When we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full - KJV = "fleshpots" which were simply kettles or large metal pots used for boiling water (Jer 1:13) or cooking meat. WE WANT MEAT AND BREAD! To the full speaks of their bellies, their gratification, their satisfaction! They are conveniently forgetting that the were actually very oppresses and "sighed because of the bondage." (Ex 2:23) This is aberrational selective memory at best! They are talking about "good times Egypt!" Ridiculous! 

Ryken - The Israelites confused what they wanted with what they needed. This is often the source of our discontent—thinking that our greeds are really our needs. The Israelites complained that their situation was worse than it actually was. They also did something else that complainers often do: They exaggerated the advantages of their former situation. They exaggerated the advantages of their former situation. “Remember the good old days?” they said. “Remember how stuffed we used to get?” They looked back with longing on their time in Egypt, when they used to belly up to Pharaoh’s buffet. At least that’s how they remembered it. In truth, it is doubtful whether Pharaoh fed them all the meat that they could eat. (Ibid)

Currid - How well do they remember Egypt? Is this honestly how Pharaoh treated them? This point goes to the very heart of the exodus story: was Pharaoh’s servitude easier to bear and more comforting than that of Yahweh? (Ironically, the Israelites are now groaning under Yahweh’s service as they did under Pharaoh’s.)

Spurgeon - They forgot all about the brick-making, an et it! The present much smaller one seems far heavier than that which is past.

Bruckner on grumbling - There is a similar kind of grumbling in Numbers, but it occurs after they have been to Sinai and following the Lord for a year. There the grumbling brought judgment against the people, because they had had time to learn the ways of the Lord. An overly negative judgment should not be superimposed on the exodus experience because of Numbers. In Exodus 15–17 the Lord was patient and tolerant of the missteps of the recently delivered slaves. Their failure to follow instructions did make Moses angry (v. 20), but the Lord only mentions their slow learning curve once and was successful in convincing them to change their pattern (vv. 28, 30).

Life Application Study Bible - Difficult circumstances often lead to stress, and complaining is a natural response. The Israelites didn't really want to be back in Egypt; they just wanted life to get a little easier. In the pressure of the moment, they could not focus on the cause of their stress (in this case, lack of trust in God); they could only think about the quickest way of escape. When pressure comes your way, resist the temptation to make a quick escape. Instead, focus on God's power and wisdom to help you deal with the cause of your stress.

For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger - Recall that Israel left on Passover "with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock. (Ex 12:38)

Ryken - Remember that the great question in Exodus concerned Israel’s worship: Whom would they serve—God or Pharaoh? God wanted his people to serve him alone, but now the Israelites were saying, “We would rather serve Pharaoh.” Patrick Henry’s famous words were, “Give me liberty or give me death!” The Israelites said exactly the opposite: “Give us bondage or give us death!” Their complaining went far beyond griping about their menu. They were rebelling against God’s plan for their salvation. This is an important insight about the sin of complaining. All our dissatisfaction and discontent ultimately is directed against God. Usually we take out our frustrations on someone else, especially people who are close to us. A psychologist would call this displacement. In the case of the Israelites, although they were taking things out on Moses, they were really angry with God. This is why God always takes our complaints personally. He knows that when we grumble about our personal circumstances, our spiritual leaders, or anything else, what we are really doing is finding fault with him. We are complaining about what he has provided (or not provided, as the case may be). A complaining spirit always indicates a problem in our relationship with God. (Ibid)

NET Note - That the complaint leading up to the manna is unjustified can be seen from the record itself. They left Egypt with flocks and herds and very much cattle, and about 45 days later they are complaining that they are without food. Moses reminded them later that they lacked nothing (Dt 3:7; for the whole sermon on this passage, see Dt 8:1–20). Moreover, the complaint is absurd because the food of work gangs was far more meager than they recall. The complaint was really against Moses. They crave the eating of meat and of bread and so God will meet that need; he will send bread from heaven and quail as well.

Jack Arnold writes that "Israel was an infant nation and needed to have a strong faith to enter the land of Canaan, the promised land. Whether that generation of Jews entered the land depended entirely on whether they had the faith to believe God that He would give them the land against overwhelming odds. They needed training in faith so God took them out into the desert to train them in the art of faith. They would be tested by God through problems, crisis and pressure situations to cause them to develop their faith in order for them to fight and win future battles. The Jews were not ready to enter the land after the Red Sea incident. They needed preparation and training to fight and win future spiritual battles and to conquer the giants in the land of Canaan. They could not fight the giants physically until spiritually they believed God would fight the giants for them. Therefore, God sent them into the desert to test them.

You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. (Dt 8:2-3)

“If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

This is not exactly a model prayer. There is complaining, grumbling, self-pity—all the things that can drive us crazy about other people. Given such self-centered insolence, you would at least expect God to say, “I’m not listening until you ask nicely.” But this is not an invented story where the god is like us. This is the God. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, “At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God”’” (Exodus 16:9–12). 

This response goes against all our expectations. God truly is not like us. It is as if God says to us, “Let me remind you of how I listen and see if you think I could listen even to you.” Then he recounts stories of adulterers like King David, murderers like the apostle Paul, and grumblers like newly delivered Israel. If he hears and loves them, he will hear and love us. The lesson is clear: He doesn’t hear because of us and the quality of our prayers. He hears because he is the God Who Hears.  - Edward T. Welch

Jack Arnold - The sons of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, their leaders, because their own souls toward God were rotten. They blamed their condition on someone else rather than examining their own lives to see the problem was really unbelief. Complainers are al­ways short sighted. The Jews were so down and depressed that they wished that God had killed them in Egypt rather than brought them out into the desert. Surely they did not really mean this, but because they had their eyes on circumstances rather than the God of circumstances, everything was out of perspective for them. They had a good case of “self-pity” and were experiencing the “woe is me” syndrome. 

Often, when Christians get under the pile, they get blue, discouraged, and depressed and say, “I wish I were dead!”  They are full of self-pity, and emotion has taken over their reasoning powers and the capacity for faith. Everything gets out of per­spective when one gets a human viewpoint towards life. Just as God never intended to kill one Israelite but intended only to bless them, so God intends to give valuable lessons through the crisis of life.

The Jews had short spiritual memories and long human memories, for their minds flashed back to their days in Egypt as they sat by the flesh pots (pots of meat) and were filled with bread. Because they were operating on a human viewpoint, they magnified their situation all out of proportion in Egypt. They were really not fed that well in Egypt. They were slaves, and the food they ate was lousy, but their sin natures in them told them that their situation in Egypt was really better than it actually was. The good old days were really not that good. They ate Egyptian leftovers, and at best their food was second and third rate, but they remembered it to be much better than it actually was (Num. 11:5). They remembered sitting around the fleshpots. A fleshpot was a big outdoor kettle used to cook the miserable food the Egyptians gave them. Surely, the Israelites were rationed on the amount of meat they could eat as slaves.  So they would have to supplement their meat supply with whatever they could find.  They might find a rabbit, a gopher, a bird, a lizard, a crow, a snail or two, a couple of worms or grasshoppers. This was mere survival food; yet they wanted to go back to Egypt. They actually wanted to go back and eat garbage food when just around the corner God had wonderful things planned for them in the future. Yet, when things got a little rough, they wanted to jump right back to the fleshpots of Egypt.

Christian, what is your fleshpot? What makes you want to jump out of your Christian life and go back into the world?  Israel never left Egypt mentally and always had a desire to go back. Do you have a desire to go back to live the status quo life of an unbeliever? Perhaps you wish you could throw over Christianity for more money, but you have forgotten how materialism practically destroyed you as an unsaved person. Perhaps you think that if you were not a Christian you could have a premarital affair with someone, but have you forgotten the emptiness sex brings without love? Perhaps you would like to kick over the traces of Christ for the chance to take a man or a woman in adultery, but have you forgotten the misery of guilt and the secret life of hiding truth from your mate? Perhaps you want to return to a party life and long for a good old belt of booze, but have you forgotten the hangovers and the em­barrassment that came into your life when you were controlled by alcohol? You may want at times to go back to the world, but remember, the world is cruel, hypocritical, superficial, shallow, lonely, and it never satisfies the deepest longings of the human soul. The sin nature in us tells us that the world is much more attractive than it actually is; to go back to Egypt would destroy us spiritually. Do not be short­sighted, for God has wonderful things planned for you if you will but trust Him. He allows you to be tested so He can teach you to live by faith and bless you. To go back into the world permanently is to renounce Christ and forfeit the benefits of salvation, which is tantamount to apostasy. When the urge comes upon you as a Christian to leave the faith and go back into the world, fight it, crucify it, and run from it. Go forward in faith trusting Christ for future blessing.

Why did these Jews complain? They had their eyes on circumstances. Complainers are always short on faith. They did not see that God is in control of circumstances.

Whenever circumstances change the Christian, something is wrong. Circumstances always change, but God never changes. Whenever a little difficulty throws a Christian into a tailspin, something is drastically wrong. The problem is summed up in one word: unbelief. ­

It was Thanksgiving Day and the town grouch was grumbling as usual. "Don't you have anything to be thankful for?" a neighbor asked. "Nope," he said. "Have you considered thanking God for turning your nose right side up? He could have put it upside down. Then when it rained you would have drowned and when you sneezed, you would have blown your thankless head off." The Israelites are the epitome of unthankfulness and ungratefulness. It would have served them right if they had blown their heads off when they sneezed. How dare they treat Moses this way after all that he has done and endured for them.

Keith Green
PLAY: So You Want to Go Back to Egypt

So you wanna go back to Egypt
Where it's warm and secure
Are you sorry you bought the one way ticket
When you thought you were sure?
You wanted to live in the land of promise
But now it's getting so hard
Are you sorry you're out here in the desert
Instead of your own back yard?

Eating leaks and onions by the Nile
Ooh, what breath for dining-out in style
Ooh, my life's on the skids
Building the pyramids

Well, there's nothing to do but travel
And we sure travel a lot
'Cause it's hard to keep your feet from moving
When the sand gets so hot
And in the morning it's manna hotcakes
We snack on manna all day
And we sure had a winner last night for dinner
Flaming manna souffle

Well, we once complained for something new to munch
The ground opened up and had some of us for lunch
Ooh, such fire and smoke
Can't God even take a joke? Huh? (No!)

So you wanna to back to Egypt
Where your friends wait for you
You can throw a big party and tell the whole gang
Of what they said was all true
And this Moses acts like a big shot
Who does he think he is?
Well it's true that God works lots of miracles
But Moses thinks they're all his

Oh we're having so much trouble even now
Why'd he get so mad about that c-c-cow, that golden calf?
Moses seems rather idle
He just sits around, he just sits around and writes the Bible!

Oh, Moses, put down your pen
What? Oh no, manna again?
Oh, manna waffles
Manna burgers
Manna bagels?
Fillet of manna
Manna patty?
Bamanna bread

Exodus 16:4  Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will 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 or not they will walk in My instruction.

Currid - And Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion in its day—in order that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.’

NET  Exodus 16:4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people will go out and gather the amount for each day, so that I may test them. Will they will walk in my law or not?

NLT  Exodus 16:4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Look, I'm going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.

ESV  Exodus 16:4 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.

  • I will rain - Ps 78:24,25 Ps 105:40 John 6:31,32 1Co 10:3 
  • gather a day's portion every day -  Ne 11:23 Pr 30:8 Mt 6:11,32,33 Lu 11:3 
  • that I may test them - Ex 15:25 De 8:2,16 Jos 24:15 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


The Lord responded to the people’s grumbling with His amazing grace: He promised to rain bread from heaven on them and to provide meat that evening (Ex 16:4, 6, 8). 

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you - It is better to rain bread than hail which the Egyptians experience! Bread does not usually rain from Heaven!  Another supernatural sign to remind Israel of the power of Yahweh and His desire to protect them! Remember what Pharaoh did when they groaned under his slavery?  Pharaoh took straw from them to make their lives harder. Yahweh responds to the complaining by raining grace on them -- for if there was ever unmerited favor this was it! "This is another miraculous sign that God is with his people; it is a concession to a people who live by sight." (Currid)

Guzik on bread from Heaven - This reminds us that God may provide from resources that we never knew existed. Sometimes He provides from familiar resources, sometimes from unexpected resources.

Ps 78:25 Man did eat the bread of angels; He sent them food in abundance.

Spurgeon - The delicacies of kings were outdone, for the dainties of angels were supplied. Bread of the mighty ones fell on feeble man. Those who are lower than the angels fared as well. It was not for the priests, or the princes, that the manna fell; but for all the nation, for every man, woman, and child in the camp: and there was sufficient for them all, for he sent them meat to the full. God's banquets are never stinted; he gives the best diet, and plenty of it.

Spurgeon - See God’s answer to man’s murmuring. They send up their complaint, and he promises to rain bread down from above. It is a blessed story on God’s part all along; a rain of mercy for a smoke of complaining.

Steven Cole - The manna didn’t just float down into everyone’s mouth. It was free and abundant, but the people had to get up and gather it every day before the sun melted it. It was a test of faith to see whether they would obey God or not (Exod. 16:4, 19-20, 27-29). They were to gather about two liters each every morning, but on Friday morning, they were to gather four liters so that they didn’t need to gather any on the Sabbath. This wasn’t the full instruction regarding the Sabbath that would follow later, but it was a test to see if Israel would obey God’s command and trust Him to provide each day and twice as much for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was God’s gift so that the people could rest that day (Exod. 16:29-30).

And the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day - A days portion is simply the amount a family would need every day. This instruction continues in Ex 16:5 that the amount shall be twice as much as on the other 5 days. 

That - Introduces a purpose. In this case the instructions serve as a test

Moses alludes to this in Dt 8:16

“In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that (PURPOSE) (1) He might humble you and that (2) He might test you, to do good for you in the end.

Comment - Ultimately it is to teach God’s people to depend upon him.

I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction (My Torah) - What is the test? The giving of the manna (1) test their obedience God's clear instructions and (2) a test of their faith regarding whether they believe him and do not gather too much manna or attempt to store it for the next day. Walk in My instruction simply describes obedience. Yahweh is allowing to the test to see if Israel will obey Him. He knows of course, but He allows this to expose one's heart. 

Note that the idea of test is used in each grumbling scenario, the first two of God testing the people (Ex 15:25; Ex 16:4) and the last two of the people testing God (Ex. 17:2; Ex 17:7). 

In Ex 16:27 we see that some of the people failed the test because "It came about on the seventh day (WHEN THEY WERE TO REST IN HIS SUFFICIENT SUPPLY FROM THE 6TH DAY) that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none." Tim Keller commenting on Ex 16:37 asks " What kind of test is this? He gives them a test, they fail the test, and he patiently, lovingly, patiently, lovingly, over and over and over again throughout their entire 40 years, continues to say, “Let’s try tomorrow again (FOR 40 YEARS)."

Guzik adds the other aspect of the "test" mentioned in Ex 16:5 - The blessing of bread from heaven came with the responsibility of obedience. This responsibility would test Israel and measure their obedience. The test came on the sixth day, when they were to gather twice as much, so the seventh day could be received as a day of rest.

John Currid - The reason that God gives manna to the children of Israel is not merely to feed them. A much greater purpose is being served. Moses later comments that ‘He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD … in the wilderness he fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and that he might test you, to do good for you in the end’ (Deut. 8:3, 16). The primary intent of the provision of manna was to teach God’s people to depend upon God and upon his Word. Man’s survival is dependent upon the Lord, and him alone. The reader should consider Jesus’ response to Satan’s temptation that he should turn stones into bread! (Matt. 4:4).

The Hebrew word for instruction here is torah which is most often translated law. Robert Rayburn says that "torah is gracious instruction in how to find God’s blessing.  Torah is not best translated as commandment or law, but instruction or guidance:  God’s showing of his people the way of life.

Test (05254)(nacah/nasah) in most OT uses has idea of testing or proving quality of someone or something and doing so often through adversity or hardship. As the following context makes clear (note "to see," lit., "to know," in 3:4), the purpose of this divine test was to determine if Israel was truly loyal. An examination of parallel passages shows that such divine tests were designed to reveal otherwise hidden character qualities. Testing which shows what someone is really like generally involves difficulty or hardship.

Nacah/nasah in OT - 34v -  Gen. 22:1; Exod. 15:25; Exod. 16:4; Exod. 17:2; Exod. 17:7; Exod. 20:20; Num. 14:22; Deut. 4:34; Deut. 6:16; Deut. 8:2; Deut. 8:16; Deut. 13:3; Deut. 28:56; Deut. 33:8; Jdg. 2:22; Jdg. 3:1; Jdg. 3:4; Jdg. 6:39; 1 Sam. 17:39; 1 Ki. 10:1; 2 Chr. 9:1; 2 Chr. 32:31; Job 4:2; Ps. 26:2; Ps. 78:18; Ps. 78:41; Ps. 78:56; Ps. 95:9; Ps. 106:14; Eccl. 2:1; Eccl. 7:23; Isa. 7:12; Dan. 1:12; Dan. 1:14

Psalm 78:22-32 describes the manna and the quail God provided but gives us the context (note esp v22)

Because they did not believe in God And did not trust in His salvation.  23 Yet He commanded the clouds above And opened the doors of heaven;  24 He rained down manna upon them to eat And gave them food from heaven.  25 Man did eat the bread of angels; He sent them food in abundance.  26 He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens And by His power He directed the south wind.  27 When He rained meat upon them like the dust, Even winged fowl like the sand of the seas,  28 Then He let them fall in the midst of their camp, Round about their dwellings.  29 So they ate and were well filled, And their desire He gave to them.  30 Before they had satisfied their desire, While their food was in their mouths,  31 The anger of God rose against them And killed some of their stoutest ones, And subdued the choice men of Israel.  32 In spite of all this they still sinned And did not believe in His wonderful works. 

Henry Morris comments - In Exodus 16:11-13, the Lord had graciously supplied quail when the people complained, and He did not rebuke them for questioning Him. Now, however, there was no excuse for their lack of faith. He had also given them the law since that first experience, and they had covenanted to obey it. Thus discipline was doubly justified at this point.

Jesus picks up on the OT picture of Manna or Bread from Heaven...

John 6:30-35  (KEEP CONTEXT IN MIND - JESUS HAD JUST FED UP 5,000+ IN John 6:10) So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”  35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

MacArthur comments - The crowd’s logic appeared to be that Jesus’ miraculous feeding was a small miracle compared to what Moses did. In order for them to believe in Him, they would need to see Him feed the nation of Israel on the same scale that God did when He sent manna and fed the entire nation of Israel during their wilderness wanderings for 40 years (Ex 16:11–36). They were demanding that Jesus outdo Moses if they were to believe in Him. They quoted from Ps 78:24. The manna God gave was temporary and perished and was only a meager shadow of what God offered them in the true bread, Jesus Christ, who gives spiritual and eternal life to mankind (“world”).

Don’t miss the staggering magnitude of that claim! Whoever comes to Jesus will not hunger and the one who believes in Him will never thirst! No mere man could make such an amazing claim! He will satisfy all who come to Him and believe on Him! But the Jews responded by grumbling. Jesus rebuked them and added (John 6:48-51)

John 6:47-58  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 “I am the bread of life. 49 “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 “This is the bread (HIMSELF) which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven (Click Devotional); if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”  52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 58 “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

Steven Cole - Jesus was not talking about eating the communion bread, but rather about personally trusting in Him and His death on the cross for eternal life. And He was pointing to the truth that as we truly feed on Him for all of our daily needs, we enjoy sweet, nourishing bread even as we walk in a barren wilderness. Do you know the satisfaction of daily feeding on Jesus as your bread of life? Thus, God leads you into places of need so that you will look to Him to meet those needs. When you look to the Lord, you see His grace and glory to be your sufficiency. The manna points to Jesus Christ, the true bread of life that comes down out of heaven to satisfy your soul.

Wiersbe - Jesus is the Bread of Life, and the only way to be saved is to receive Him into our inner being just as the body receives food. (ED: AND WHAT WAS THE RESULT - John 6:66 "As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.")

MacArthur - The eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood metaphorically symbolize the need for accepting Jesus’ cross work. Jesus’ reference here to eating and drinking was not referring to the ordinance of communion for two significant reasons: 1) communion had not been instituted yet, and 2) if Jesus was referring to communion, then the passage would teach that anyone partaking of communion would receive eternal life.

The Old Testament manna was a type or picture of God’s Son
who came to give Himself as the Bread of Life for hungry sinners.
--Warren Wiersbe

Wiersbe - In our pilgrim journey through life, we live on promises and not explanations. When we hurt, it’s a normal response to ask “Why?” but that is the wrong approach to take. For one thing, when we ask God that question, we’re assuming a superior posture and giving the impression that we’re in charge and God is accountable to us. God is sovereign and doesn’t have to explain anything to us unless He wants to. Asking “Why?” also assumes that if God did explain His plans and purposes to us, we’d understand everything perfectly and feel better....Explanations don’t heal broken hearts, but promises do, because promises depend on faith, and faith puts us in contact with the grace of God....When circumstances are difficult, we’re prone to pray, “Lord, how can I get out of this?” when we ought to be praying, “Lord, what can I get out of this?” It isn’t important that we get our way, but it is important that God accomplishes His purposes and receives all the glory (Matt. 6:33). God permits trials so that He can build godly character into His children and make us more like Jesus. Godliness isn’t the automatic result of reading books and attending meetings; it also involves bearing burdens, fighting battles, and feeling pain.

Adrian Rogers on It was a Faith Test: Dependence on Him - Now, what was the meaning of the manna? It was a faith test; it was a mark of their dependence upon Him. Look in Ex 16:4: "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,"—"that I may test them—"whether they will walk in my law, or no" (Exodus 16:4). It showed a matter of their dependence upon the Lord. Now, it was a faith test. And friend, I want to say this: that, when you feed on Jesus daily, that is a faith test, and it shows your dependence upon the Lord. If you don't have a quiet time (Thoughts on the Quiet Time), you have a weak faith, and you're self-sufficient. And, really, the time that you spend with the Lord, or you don't spend with the Lord, is a way God is proving you and testing you.

F B Meyer - Exodus 16:4   A Day’s Portion every day. (R.V.)

It is said that the twenty-four hours should be divided thus: Eight hours for work, eight for rest, eight for recreation, food, etc. There should be a counterpart of this in Christian living. Each day there should be a portion for work, a portion for restful meditation and sitting before the Lord, and a portion for the gathering of God’s manna.

Each day brings its own work. — God has created us for good works, and has prepared our pathway, so that we may come to them one by one. He has apportioned to each one some office to fulfill, some service to render, some function in the mystical body of our Lord. It is comforting to know that we have not to scheme for ourselves, but to look up for guidance into the Divine plan.

Each day brings its own difficulties. — God spreads them over our days, giving each day only what we can sustain. The servant girl might be startled were she told that she would have to carry the coals, which it has taken two horses and a great cart to brim to her master’s door; but she will be comforted by being reminded that they will be borne upstairs only a coal — scuttle full at a time.

Each day brings its own supply. — No Israelite could point to his store of manna and congratulate himself that he was proof against any famine that might befall. The lesson of daily trust for daily bread was constantly being enforced; for as the day came the manna fell. Those who followed the cloud were always certain of their sustenance. Where the cloud brooded the manna fell. Whatever any day may bring there always will be within reach of you, lying ready prepared on the sands of the desert, just what you require. Go forth and carry it; there will be no lack. 

Exodus 16:4 One Day At A Time
Matthew 6:25-34

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. —Matthew 6:34

A frail, elderly woman fell and broke her hip. The doctor set the bones as best he could, but he knew that she would have a long and uncomfortable recovery.

The next day when he visited her in the hospital, he found her in great anxiety. “Oh, Doctor,” she asked, “how long am I going to have to stay in bed?”

With wisdom and kindness he gently replied, “Only one day—one day at a time!”

That was a wise answer. It reminds me of the words of the Lord Jesus. He taught a similar lesson when He said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).

Not only that, tomorrow’s worries may never come to pass. A godly woman who had lived long enough to learn some important lessons about life said, “I’ve had a lot of trouble in my life—and most of it never happened!”

Are you burdened by worries about what might happen tomorrow? Do the days ahead seem dark and full of difficulties? Remember that grace and guidance are given to us like manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4), one day at a time!  —Henry G. Bosch (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Each day God sends His grace
To strengthen you and me;
We need to use today's supply,
And let tomorrow be.

God gives grace just when we need it.

Exodus 16:4 Tested By the Blessings

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not."

Tested by the Blessings

Many tests come in the guise of hardship, illness or some other unpleasant experience--but not all of them. The good times can be just as much a test as the bad times.

When the people of Israel reached the Wilderness of Sin, they were unable to find food. This hot, barren wasteland offered nothing that would sustain a multitude of people. But God used this experience to test His children and teach them to trust Him. He graciously supplied a heavenly food that looked like a dewdrop, which the people called "manna." This miraculous gift was more than just a blessing, however. It was also God's test to see whether they would walk in His law or not.

Being obedient in the midst of plenteous blessings is often more difficult than when we are experiencing a multitude of difficulties. Pleasures can easily dull our spiritual ears so we no longer hear the Lord saying, "This is the way, walk in it" (Isa. 30:21). A lack of trials lulls us into a false sense of security and leaves us vulnerable to the attacks of Satan. It's no wonder that some people claim it's easier to survive poverty than wealth. Agur, the writer of Proverbs 30 prayed, "Feed me with the food You prescribe for me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, 'Who is the Lord?'" (vv. 8-9).

If you are experiencing a time of blessing, that's wonderful--but be sensitive to the potential for danger. Testing doesn't stop just because the trials have ceased. The need for obedience is constant whether the sun shines or not.

Trust and obey--every day.

Exodus 16:5  "On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as m uch as they gather daily."


On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily - The reason is not explained until later. But considering this was a "test" it would seem that by obeying they would learn to trust the Lord for what the did not know. In verse 23 Moses says "Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.”

Bruckner - The Lord’s plan was to form this assembly into a people who would bless the world through the way they lived. God was preparing them for the more comprehensive instruction (torah) at Sinai. Giving bread with instructions was a small beginning, but by the end of the chapter it proved effective. The people learned to follow the Lord in the matter of daily bread (v. 30). The Lord “proved their ability” to follow (nasah, NIV “test”).

Currid - The second specification of the law is that five days a week the Hebrews are to gather bread for each day, but the sixth and seventh days are to be different.  On the sixth day they are to collect a double portion of bread, so that they will have enough for the next day as well. Work on the seventh day is not allowed.

NET - There is a question here concerning the legislation – the people were not told why to gather twice as much on the sixth day. In other words, this instruction seems to presume that they knew about the Sabbath law. That law will be included in this chapter in a number of ways

Exodus 16:6  So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, "At evening you will know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt;

  • At evening you will know - Ex 16:8,12,13 
  • the Lord - Ex 16:3 6:7 12:51 32:1,7,11 Nu 16:28,30 Ps 77:20 Isa 63:11,12 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, "At evening you will know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt - Is this not fascinating? One would think that with the experience of the plagues, Passover, and the deliverance at the Red Sea, Israel would surely know this truth! As Guzik says "Yet experiences, even great experiences, don’t change the heart as much as we often think."

Currid - Two physical signs will be given to Israel so that the people will cease their grumbling and see the foolishness of their ways. The first sign is that the Hebrews will receive food that very evening—probably the meat mentioned in verse 8 (cf. the use of ‘evening’ in both verses). A second sign will occur in the morning: ‘the glory of Yahweh’, the Shekinah glory, will make an appearance before the people. 

NET - Moses is very careful to make sure that they know it is Yahweh who has brought them out, and it will be Yahweh who will feed them. They are going to be convinced of this now. 

ESV Study Bible - Although the plagues are described to Pharaoh as taking place so that the Egyptians would know “that I am the LORD” (see note on Ex 7:5+), the Lord first said that the signs would serve a similar purpose for Israel (see Ex 6:7+; Ex 10:2+), and their complaints against Moses bear evidence that they are still in need of coming to know and appropriate that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt (see also 16:12).

Phillip Ryken - God gave his people bread to show that he was Lord. This was something that he had already proven to his enemies. He showed the Egyptians who was Lord by drowning them on their chariots in the sea. Now he was going to show his own people the same thing, only he would do it by meeting their needs. The meat and the bread would give them a personal, firsthand acquaintance with his lordship. The Israelites already knew that God was the Lord of Israel, but now they would learn it again by their own experience. Another way to say this is that God would show Israel his glory. God’s glory is his reputation. It is his honor, the weightiness of his character, the sum total of all his divine perfections. To know that he is the Lord, therefore, is to know him as the God of glory. To help his people see how glorious he is, God gave them a glimpse: “Then Moses told Aaron, ‘Say to the entire Israelite community, “Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.” ’ While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud” (vv. 9, 10). Once again Aaron served as God’s spokesman. He gathered the people into God’s presence and then pointed them to God’s glory. What the people saw was the Shekinah, the glorious cloud of God’s presence and protection. God was glorified in the cloud, which was a visible manifestation of his invisible majesty. But God was also glorified in sending the manna and the quail. His miraculous provision added to his reputation as the God who hears and the God who cares. Every time God provides for his people, it is for the praise of his glory. By this point in Exodus, we have come to expect God to do things for his own glory. If we learn nothing else from this book, we learn that we are saved for God’s glory. At every stage of Israel’s deliverance, God did what he did—and did it the way that he did—to receive all the glory and praise. However predictable it becomes, there is no more important lesson than this: God disposes all things for the ultimate good of his glory. Every time he provides, he adds a little more weight to his reputation. (PW-Ex)

Exodus 16:1-12 No Reverse

You shall know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt. —Exodus 16:6

The first time I saw her, I fell in love. She was a beauty. Sleek. Clean. Radiant. As soon as I spied the 1962 Ford Thunderbird at the used-car lot, her shiny exterior and killer interior beckoned me. I knew this was the car for me. So I plunked down $800 and purchased my very first car.

But there was a problem lurking inside my prized possession. A few months after I bought my T-Bird, it suddenly became particular about which way I could go. It allowed me to go forward, but I couldn’t go backward. It had no reverse.

Although not having reverse is a problem in a car, sometimes it’s good for us to be a little like my old T-Bird. We need to keep going forward—without the possibility of putting life into reverse. In our walk with Jesus, we need to refuse to go backward. Paul said it simply: We need to “press toward the goal” (Phil. 3:14).

Perhaps the children of Israel could have used my T-Bird’s transmission. We read in Exodus 16 that they were in danger of putting life into reverse. Despite the many miracles God had performed, they longed for Egypt and failed to trust that He could guide them forward.

We need to keep moving ahead in our walk with God. Don’t back up. Look forward. Press on. By Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

When long and steep the path appears
Or heavy is the task,
Our Father says, “Press on, My child;
One step is all I ask.”
—D. De Haan  

When facing a crisis, trust God and move forward.  

The phrase to know the LORD is repeated. As you read these references to knowing God (you may need to check the context by clicking on the link) interrogate the texts with the question what did God say or do that people might know He is the LORD, YHWH? Notice who were the people whom God wanted to know Him as Jehovah? Recall Pharaoh's arrogant question in Exodus 5:2 "But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” SEE IF GOD TAKES UP PHARAOH'S CHALLENGE?

PHARAOH/EGYPTIANS TO KNOW YAHWEH - Exodus 7:5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.” (See Ex 14:4 and Ex 14:18 below)

PHARAOH/EGYPTIANS TO KNOW YAHWEH - Exodus 7:17  ‘Thus says the LORD, “By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood.

PHARAOH/EGYPTIANS TO KNOW YAHWEH - Exodus 8:10  Then he said, “Tomorrow.” So he said, “May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God.

PHARAOH/EGYPTIANS TO KNOW YAHWEH - Exodus 8:22  “But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land.

PHARAOH/EGYPTIANS TO KNOW YAHWEH - Exodus 9:14  “For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth.

PHARAOH/EGYPTIANS TO KNOW YAHWEH - Exodus 9:29  Moses said to him, “As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the LORD; the thunder will cease and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the LORD’S.

Exodus 9:30  “But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God.”

ISRAEL TO KNOW YAHWEH - Exodus 10:2  and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.” 

PHARAOH/EGYPTIANS TO KNOW YAHWEH - Exodus 14:4  “Thus I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. 

PHARAOH/EGYPTIANS TO KNOW YAHWEH - Exodus 14:18  Then the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.” 

ISRAEL TO KNOW YAHWEH - Exodus 16:6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, “At evening you will know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt;

ISRAEL TO KNOW YAHWEH - Exodus 16:12 “I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’” 

Exodus 16:7  and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, for He hears your grumblings against the LORD; and what are we, that you grumble against us?"

  • the morning - Ex 16:13 
  • you will see the glory of the LORD  - Ex 16:10 24:10,16 40:34 Lev 9:6 Nu 14:10 16:42 Isa 35:2 40:5 Joh 11:4,40 
  • what are we - Ex 16:2,3,8 Nu 16:11 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, for He hears your grumblings against the LORD and what are we, that you grumble against us - They would see the glory of the LORD which Kaiser calls “The sheer weight, gravity (kabed, ‘to be heavy,’ then ‘to glorify’) of his divine presence.”  It is notable that 4 times the text says God heard their grumbling (Ex 16:7, 8, 9, 12)

Ryken - The word “grumbling” hardly does the Israelites justice. The Hebrew word was “not designed to express a disgruntled complaint. Quite the contrary, it describe[d] an open rebellion.” When the people murmured against Moses, it was mutiny against Almighty God. They were repudiating their relationship with him. In fact, they wished that they were dead (Exod. 16:3). The way they figured, if they were going to die anyway, it would have been better to die back in Egypt. Starving in the desert was a fate worse than death. In effect, they were saying that they wished they had never been saved.

Guzik adds "One way that God showed His glory was through this display of mercy and goodness. God didn’t send them hell from heaven; He sent bread instead. Nor did He demand that they stop their complaining before they ate. Just like Jesus would later command us, God loved and fed those who acted like His enemies."

Grumblings (08519) see below on telunah

Exodus 16:7 Glory in the Morning by Dr. Woodrow Kroll

And in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord.

Some days make you wonder if you should have stayed in bed. You cut yourself shaving, you spill coffee on your clothes, you have a computer crash at work, you receive overdue notices in the mail, and your son breaks his arm on the jungle gym at school. It's enough to make you want to crawl under the covers and hide.

The Israelites also were experiencing difficulties. They were hot, tired, hungry and upset. They even wondered if they should have stayed in Egypt. This trip was more difficult than they thought it was going to be.

In the midst of these trials, God did two things: He gave them manna for their physical bodies, but He also promised to reveal His glory to them "in the morning" for their spiritual well-being. God knew that the trials of the day needed a spiritual response as well as physical relief. And He chose to meet that spiritual need while the day was yet young.

When the day is hectic, the frustrations plentiful and the disappointments thick, it's time to turn to God. Yet how different the day might have gone had we turned to the Lord before we ever got started. Whether the events of the day change or not, when we have first spent time fellowshipping with God, we are better prepared to face them.

Perhaps you aren't a morning person--many people aren't. Yet getting up even 10 minutes earlier and spending those moments reading your Bible and praying will yield greater dividends than you might imagine. When you meet with God first in the morning, it's much easier to keep Him first all day.

How you begin your day will frequently determine how you end it.

Exodus 16:8  Moses said, "This will happen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the LORD hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the LORD."

  • the LORD hears your grumbling - Ex 16:9,12 Nu 14:27 Mt 9:4 Joh 6:41-43 1Co 10:10 
  • you grumble against Him Nu 21:7 1Sa 8:7 Isa 32:6 37:29 Mt 10:40 Lu 10:16 Joh 13:20 Ro 13:2 1Th 4:8 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Moses said, "This will happen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the LORD hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him.

And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the LORD." - They were Yahweh's representatives to to grumble against them was tantamount to grumbling against Jehovah!

Criswell - God's gracious provision came even to this ungrateful and discontented people. Moses reminded them that to complain about God's leaders or His provisions was to murmur against the Lord Himself.

The Jews grumbled at Jesus - 

Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.  (John 6:41-43)

Paul warned of grumbling to the saints at Corinth - "Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer." (1Co 10:10) 

Grumblings (08519)(telunah from lun = to murmur) describe speech used of Israel's murmurings against the Lord (or His representatives) and as such represent an overt act rebellion, disbelief, and disobedience to duly constituted authority. Stated another way grumblings are rebellious expressions of complaint and dissatisfaction especially against Yahweh! They complained about having no food, so the Lord rained manna and quail from the sky (Exo. 16:3-15). The congregation also complained about the report of the spies who visited the Promised Land and expressed fear of the inhabitants. The Lord afflicted them with a plague and sent them back to Sinai for forty years (Num. 14). The Israelites grumbled against the authority of Moses and Aaron (cf. Ex 16:41-17:10).

Telunah is translated in the Septuagint with goggusmos which describes an utterance made in a low tone and can be a direct assault or "behind the scenes talk." 

Telunah - 8x in 7v - complaints(1), grumblings(7). - Exod. 16:7; Exod. 16:8; Exod. 16:9; Exod. 16:12; Num. 14:27; Num. 17:5; Num. 17:10

Adrian Rogers - It was a Food Test: Desire for Him

Not only was it a faith test (see note on Ex 16:4); it was a food test—a food test. It helped with their appetite. Notice Ex 16:8: "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.". Now, the people were murmuring, because they remembered the fleshpots of Egypt; they remembered the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic. So, not only was God testing them according to their dependence—the faith test—but God was testing them according to their desire, which is the food test. You are what you eat, and you eat what you are. That is, what you desire to eat shows so much about you. If you have an inordinate desire for television, or for novels, or for movies, or newspapers, or whatever, if that is what you desire—the world's fare—if that is your great appetite, it shows something about you. Do you really, really have a hunger, an appetite for the Lord? Look, if you will, in Numbers 11:4: "And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?" That is, "We want some mutton! We want some leg of lamb!" "We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: but now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes" (Nu 11:4-6). That is, they were saying, "Lord, we don't want Heaven's bread; we want Earth's garlic." Now, in the passage in the New Testament, in John 6, where Jesus is comparing Himself with the manna, He began to talk to the disciples about eating His flesh and drinking His blood—that is, feeding on Him. And, you know what the Bible says? The Bible says, in John 6:66: "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him" (John 6:66)—when Jesus talked to them about feeding on Him. I wonder how many in this congregation tonight really have an appetite for Jesus? Really, do you have a dependence upon Him? Do you have a desire for Him? There's the faith test—the dependence upon Him. There is the food test—the desire for Him.

It was a Fellowship Test: Devotion to Him
And, there is the fellowship test. You see, it spoke of dependence; it spoke of desire; it spoke of devotion. That's what your quiet time does—it speaks of your dependence upon God; it speaks of your desire for God; it speaks of your devotion for God. The test of your love for the Lord Jesus Christ is this, very clearly and very plainly: Do you feed on Him? Do you desire Him? Are you hungry for Him? Would you say, "Bread of Heaven, feed me until I want no more"? (Modern song - Feed Me Until Want No More)

Exodus 16:8 I Hate to Complain by Dr. Woodrow Kroll

Also Moses said, "This shall be seen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for the Lord hears your murmurings which you make against Him. And what are we? Your murmurings are not against us but against the Lord."

Certain expressions in the English language raise doubts in our minds, such as: "Your check is in the mail," from a debtor; "This shouldn't cost much," from your mechanic; or "This won't hurt," from your dentist. Another such expression we often hear is, "I hate to complain." How often have you heard someone say, "I hate to complain, but . . ." and then launch into a lengthy tale of how, in some fashion, you've fallen short of his expectations?

Moses and Aaron heard it a lot. At least on three occasions (at Marah, Ex. 15:24; in the Wilderness of Sin, Ex. 16:2; and at Rephidim, Ex. 17:3), the people complained about the hardships encountered on their journey. In fact, at Rephidim, Moses told God, "The people are ready to stone me!" (17:4).

The truth is, most of us don't mind complaining at all. Yet we need to remember that when we complain, ultimately the person we're finding fault with is God. He is sovereign, so everything that comes into our lives must first meet His approval. When we complain, we are telling God, "You've made a mistake. You shouldn't have allowed this to happen to me." But God is too wise to make a mistake and too loving to permit unnecessary heartache.

When you are next tempted to complain, remember that you have a sovereign God who loves you. All that you experience is to shape and mold you into the best person you can be. Instead of complaining, be happy that God cares enough about you even to allow you hardship under His watchful eye.

Ultimately, all our complaints are directed against God.

Would we grumble as we now do?  (J.R. Miller, "Evening Thoughts" 1907)

"The Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him!" Exodus 16:8

The fact that God hears all that we say, ought to make us guard our words. But does God really hear every fretful word we say? Does He hear when we grumble about the weather, about the hard winter, about the late spring, about the dry summer, about the wet harvest, and about the grub-worm? Does He hear when we grumble about the drought, about the high winds, about the storms?

Does He hear when we complain about the hardness of our lot?

If we could get into our hearts and keep there continually, the consciousness that every word we speak is heard in Heaven, and falls upon God's ears before it falls upon any other ear — would we grumble as we now do?

We are always on our guard when we think that anyone is within hearing. Are we as careful concerning what we say in the hearing of our heavenly Father?

We are careful, too, never to speak words which would give pain to the hearts of those we love dearly. Are we as careful not to say anything that will give pain to the heart of Christ?

An old countryman once gave me some good advice which I have never forgotten! (John Colwell, "Little Foxes; The Little Sins That Mar the Christian Character" 1882)

  • "Catch the foxes — the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes!" Song of Songs 2:15
  • "Do not grumble!" James 5:9

The grumbling fox is known by his constant growl and discontent.

An old countryman once gave me some good advice which I have never forgotten. "There are two things," said he, "at which you should never grumble — first, at things which you can change; and, secondly, at things which you cannot change. If you can change them — then change them. And if you cannot change them — then leave them alone."

"Why, then, we shall never grumble at anything," I replied.

"Exactly so!" said he.

Arthur Pink - God takes note of the discontent of our hearts — as well as the murmuring of our lips.

Not only is discontent a grievous sin against God, but it unfits the Christian for the discharge of holy duties, preventing the exercise of those graces which are necessary in order thereunto.

  • It silences the lips of supplication, for how can a murmurer pray?
  • It destroys the spirit of submission, for complaining is a fretting against the Lord.
  • It quenches faith, hope and love.
  • Discontent is the very essence of ingratitude, and therefore it stifles the voice of thanksgiving.
  • There cannot be any rest of soul, until we quietly resign our persons and portions to God's good pleasure.
  • Discontent corrodes the strings of the heart, and therefore it arrests all growth in grace.

Discontent is usually over temporal matters, and this is a sad intimation that material things are sought after more eagerly than are spiritual things. It argues a lack of confidence in the care of our heavenly Father to provide for us the things which are needed.

Exodus 16:9  Then Moses said to Aaron, "Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, 'Come near before the LORD, for He has heard your grumblings.'"

  • Come near - Nu 16:16 
  • heard - Ex 16:2,8 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Then Moses said to Aaron, "Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel - Recall Aaron is Moses' mouthpiece (Ex 4:15,16+).

'Come near before the LORD, for He has heard your grumblings - Come near means "approach, draw near" (Lxx = proserchomai as used in Hebrews - most uses describing believers drawing near -- Heb. 4:16; Heb. 7:25, Heb. 10:22; Heb. 11:6; Heb. 12:18; Heb. 12:22 and one of non-believing Jews drawing near in Heb 10:1) The Hebrew verb is used in the Torah of drawing near for religious purposes (Ex 28:1, Ex 29:4, 10, Ex. 40:12;  Ex. 40:32; Lev. 1:2 and multiple uses in Leviticus). In this context come near obviously refe -- some describing Jews not yet believers drawing near  Heb. 10:1; rs to the Israelites approaching the glory cloud. Can you imagine the people's reaction? Moses does not say why they are to draw near. And since they have been grumbling this might not be a friendly confrontation! 

This recalls the words of Job 31:14

What then could I do when God arises? And when He calls me to account, what will I answer Him?

Grumblings (08519) see above on telunah

Exodus 16:10  It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.

  • that they looked - Ex 16:7 Nu 14:10 16:19,42 
  • appeared - Ex 13:21,22 40:34-38 Lev 9:6 Nu 16:42 1Ki 8:10,11 Mt 17:5 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness - The verb looked toward is panah which means to turn (the related noun panim means face - used of Moses' looking around in Ex 2:12 and Pharaoh turning around in indifference in Ex 7:23; The verb used in Isa 45:22KJV = "Look unto me and be ye saved!" = as did C H Spurgeon) and so it is more accurately rendered "they turned to look" or "they turned to face" toward Yahweh! The text does not describe their response/reaction, but surely they were on their faces as that was the usual effect of the glory of the LORD in the Bible. 

And behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud - Behold (hinneh) draws one's attention to what follows. One would think that you would not need to add a "behold" when the glory of Yahweh appeared as He would have attracted everyone's attention! This is surely the Shekinah glory cloud.

S. R. Driver says, "A brilliant glow of fire…symbolizing Jehovah's presence, gleamed through the cloud, resting…on the Tent of Meeting. The cloud shrouds the full brilliancy of the glory, which human eye could not behold" The cloud is the the very cloud that had been leading them (Ex 13:21–22; Ex 14:19–24).

Steven Cole - God’s glory was a revelation of His greatness and power. Whenever in the Bible people got a glimpse of God’s glory, the uniform response was fear. When Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, “they fell face down to the ground and were terrified” (Mt. 17:6). When John later saw the risen Savior in His glory, he reports (Rev. 1:17), “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.” In his Gospel, he wrote (John 1:14), “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus reveals God’s grace and glory to us. When we see all that He is for us, it’s enough. We have in Him all that we need.

Dave Branon writes "I've had the privilege of viewing some glorious sights in my life. I've seen an awe-inspiring nighttime launch of the space shuttle, the majesty of Mount Fuji in Japan, the sparkling beauty of ocean sea life off the coast of the Philippine Islands, the architectural wonders of New York City, and the gleaming midsummer spectacle of a night baseball game in a major league stadium. But nothing I've ever seen comes close to what some Old Testament people saw. Moses, the people he led, Ezekiel, and others witnessed the most breathtaking sight of all time. They had a glimpse of the glory of Goda visible manifestation of the Lord's invisible being and character. Moses experienced it on Mount Sinai, and his face shone (Exodus 34:29). The Israelites saw it in the cloud, before God provided them with quail (Ex 16:10). Ezekiel saw God's glory return to the temple, and he fell to the ground (Ezekiel 43:1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Someday we who have been redeemed by Jesus will experience that inspiring sight. God's glory will shine in the heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 21:10, 11). And we will see our risen and glorified Savior, the Lord Jesus (1 John 3:2). This hope encourages us as Christians to keep going. For nothing in this world compares to seeing God's glory! 

The glory of God
In the face of His Son
To us who behold Him
Is heaven begun.

Glenn Spencer on the "Clothing" of Yahweh - We see Him descending clothed with a cloud. (Rev 10:1+ ED: But not everyone agrees this is Christ) The cloud was of old, the garment of Divine presence. We are told of God that, He maketh the clouds His chariot. (Psalm 104:3) The Lord led Israel by day in a pillar of a cloud. (Exodus 13:21) When Israel murmured, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. (Exodus 16:10) At Sinai He descended in a thick cloud. (Exodus 19:9,16) When the tables of stone were renewed to replace the broken ones, The LORD descended in the cloud. (Exodus 34:4-5) When the tabernacle was completed, ...a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:34) This cloud was called the cloud of the LORD. (Exodus 40:38) God had said, I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. (Leviticus 16:2) On the Mount Of Transfiguration A bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him. (Matthew 17:5) When Christ ascended into Heaven, a cloud received Him. (Acts 1:9) Of His second coming He said, They shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. (Luke 21:27) Behold, He cometh with clouds. (Revelation 1:7) God veils Himself in the clouds when appearing before sinful men who cannot, in their present condition, look upon His unveiled glory. 

Adrian Rogers

  • The last time they saw Him, they drove a huge spike through His feet.
  • When He comes again, His feet will be like molten brass going forth in judgment (see Revelation 1:15).
  • The last time they saw Him, they put a spear in His side and out came water and blood.
  • When He comes again in glory, He will have a sharp two-edged sword in His mouth with which He will strike the nations (see Revelation 19:15).
  • When they crucified Him, His face was so battered and bruised that people couldn't tell whether they were seeing the face of a man or of an animal.
  • When He comes again in glory, His face will be brighter than the glory of the noonday sun.
  • Humanity has a date with Jesus. And that humanity will wail when they see Him. “For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God” (Romans 14:11). Jesus Christ is coming again.

Streams in the Desert -  “They looked … and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.” (Exod. 16:10)

GET into the habit of looking for the silver lining of the cloud and when you have found it, continue to look at it, rather than at the leaden gray in the middle.

Do not yield to discouragement no matter how sorely pressed or beset you may be. A discouraged soul is helpless. He can neither resist the wiles of the enemy himself, while in this state, nor can he prevail in prayer for others.

Flee from every symptom of this deadly foe as you would flee from a viper. And be not slow in turning your back on it, unless you want to bite the dust in bitter defeat.

Search out God’s promises and say aloud of each one: “This promise is mine.” If you still experience a feeling of doubt and discouragement, pour out your heart to God and ask Him to rebuke the adversary who is so mercilessly nagging you.

The very instant you wholeheartedly turn away from every symptom of distrust and discouragement, the blessed Holy Spirit will quicken your faith and inbreathe Divine strength into your soul.

At first you may not be conscious of this, still as you resolutely and uncompromisingly “snub” every tendency toward doubt and depression that assails you, you will soon be made aware that the powers of darkness are falling back.

Oh, if our eyes could only behold the solid phalanx of strength, of power, that is ever behind every turning away from the hosts of darkness, God-ward, what scant heed would be given to the effort of the wily foe to distress, depress, discourage us!

All the marvelous attributes of the Godhead are on the side of the weakest believer, who in the name of Christ, and in simple, childlike trust, yields himself to God and turns to Him for help and guidance.—Selected.

On a day in the autumn, I saw a prairie eagle mortally wounded by a rifle shot. His eye still gleamed like a circle of light. Then he slowly turned his head, and gave one more searching and longing look at the sky. He had often swept those starry spaces with his wonderful wings. The beautiful sky was the home of his heart. It was the eagle’s domain. A thousand times he had exploited there his splendid strength. In those far away heights he had played with the lightnings, and raced with the winds, and now, so far away from home, the eagle lay dying, done to the death, because for once he forgot and flew too low. The soul is that eagle. This is not its home. It must not lose the skyward look. We must keep faith, we must keep hope, we must keep courage, we must keep Christ. We would better creep away from the battlefield at once if we are not going to be brave. There is no time for the soul to stampede. Keep the skyward look, my soul; keep the skyward look!

      “Keep looking up—
    The waves that roar around thy feet,
    Jehovah-Jireh will defeat
      When looking up.

      “Keep looking up—
    Though darkness seems to wrap thy soul;
    The Light of Light shall fill thy soul
      When looking up.

      “Keep looking up—
    When worn, distracted with the fight;
    Your Captain gives you conquering might
      When you look up.”

We can never see the sun rise by looking into the west.—Japanese Proverb.

Exodus 16:11  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying- "It’s difficult to know if everyone heard the LORD speak to Moses, or if Moses alone heard this. Certainly, everyone knew God spoke to Moses because of the display of glory (cf Ex 34:29, 30, 35), but we don’t know if they could hear what the LORD said to him." (Guzik)

Exodus 16:11-36 Feeding on God's Provisions by Theodore Epp

As the manna fell in the wilderness for the Israelites, each person was to gather what he needed.

The Lord instructed, "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" (Ex. 16:16).

The Bible records that the Israelites "gathered every man according to his eating" (v. 18). From these statements we see that there was personal responsibility to gather the food that each one needed; some gathered more, others gathered less, but each was to gather according to his particular need.

Think of the parallel this has for our feeding on God's Word. Each one must gather spiritual food for himself. A believer cannot live on another person's experience.

Testimonies are interesting, and it is wonderful to have a pastor who preaches good messages, but a believer cannot live on those things alone. Each Christian must gather his own spiritual food according to his own need.

If each one is feeding himself individually, then the testimonies and messages of others will be of encouragement to him, and he will be of much encouragement to others.

How much appetite for the Word of God do you have? Do you come to the Word with a hungry heart to learn all you can in order that you might know God better? The more we learn about Him, the more we will want to learn.

"Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12).

Exodus 16:12  "I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'"

Currid - I have heard the grumblings of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat and in the morning you shall be satisfied with bread.’ And you will know that I am Yahweh your God.’

NET  Exodus 16:12 "I have heard the murmurings of the Israelites. Tell them, 'During the evening you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be satisfied with bread, so that you may know that I am the LORD your God.'"

NLT  Exodus 16:12 "I have heard the Israelites' complaints. Now tell them, 'In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.'"

ESV  Exodus 16:12 "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.'"

  • I have - Ex 16:8 
  • At twilight - Ex 16:6 
  • in the morning - Ex 16:7 
  • you shall know - Ex 4:5 6:7 7:17 Jer 31:24 Eze 34:30 39:22 Joe 3:17 Zec 13:9 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel - This is the second time we see that Yahweh has heard their grumblings (plural)! (Ex 16:8 was the first time). One wishes this had read Yahweh had heard the prayers of the sons of Israel!

THOUGHT - It is easy to read pass this passage and miss something very significant. Let me ask you -- did the children of Israel ASK Jehovah for food or did they GRUMBLE about no food? That's a rhetorical question of course! Here's the point -- El Elyon, Most High God  Who is Sovereign Over All is condescending to meet the needs of this grumbling group without them even asking Him which shows that He is dealing with them on the basis of pure amazing grace! This is but a slight foreshadowing of His grace which is freely given to undeserving, ungodly enemies (Ro 4:5; Ro 5:6-10; 1 Ti 1:13-15). Indeed He even provides grace upon grace (Jn 1:16+) in Christ Jesus! How many times have we acted like the sons of Israel, grumbling or complaining, and despite our sour attitude, He pours out grace upon grace in our lives? Probably more times than any of us would want to admit! When we get to heaven one thing we might be shown is all the times in our lives as believers He poured out grace and we were not even aware of it! God of all grace we stop now to express our heartfelt gratitude at Your amazing grace poured out by Your Spirit of grace through the all Sufficient Source of Christ Jesus in Whose Name we pray. Amen.

Guzik - Since Moses already knew this (based on Ex 16:4–5), these words give more weight to the idea that God said this publicly, more for the benefit of Israel than for the benefit of Moses.

Duncan says that " the provision that is made is shown to be providential, not coincidental, and the danger of the people’s grumbling is highlighted."

Grumblings (08519) see above on telunah

Speak to them, saying, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread - Notice the specification of timing "at twilight" indicating this was a miracle. The quail would arrive when Yahweh rang the dinner bell so to speak! I have eaten quail and one quail hardly feeds a person, so the other aspect of the miracle was that at God's command there were upwards to two million quail on the ground, waiting to be collected by the Israelites. How many quail were there? Ps 78:27 gives us a good clue writing "When He rained meat upon them like the dust, Even winged fowl like the sand of the seas."! In sum, the quail came to the right place, at the right time, and in the right quantity! Now that is a fantastic fowl feast for sure! And so we see that the LORD specifically addresses their complaint that they would die of hunger! "You shall be sated, satisfied" and have sufficient bread to eat. In a word they would be "stuffed!"  The word for filled is a related word (see saba below) the grumblers had used in Ex 16:3 ("when we ate bread to the full;") to describe their circumstances in Egypt. Only Yahweh's provisions will truly satisfy. 

The fact that at twilight the Israelites would eat meat and in the morning they would be filled with bread.was not merely to meet their need for food. Rather it was so that they would "know that I am the Lord your God.” Greater than their need for food is the need to know that the Lord their God (and this same truth applies to every believer today! What is more important to you -- knowing the best restaurant to eat prime rib, or to know Jehovah?) This passage is amazing grace -- not only does Jehovah give grub to grumblers but graciously lets grumblers goggle at His glory! How longsuffering is our God?!!!

Phillip Ryken notes that "God did not give his people quail every day. This miracle was repeated only one other time, after the Israelites left Sinai. The book of Numbers describes how “a wind went out from the LORD and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction” (Nu 11:31). (see more discussion on this topic below)" 

Steven Cole - Exodus 16 repeatedly emphasizes the sufficiency of God’s provision for these needy, grumbling people. He would rain bread from heaven on them (Ex 16:4). He would give them “bread to the full” (Ex 16:8). They would be “filled with bread” (Ex 16:12). They were to gather “every man as much as he should eat” (Ex 16:16). “Every man gathered as much as he should eat” (Ex 16:18). Morning by morning every man gathered “as much as he should eat” (Ex 16:21). Apparently, the manna was nutritionally sufficient, like breast milk for an infant. The quail only came twice, but the manna met their nutritional needs for 40 years (Ex 16:35). This repeated emphasis shows that God is not stingy with His resources. He “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20)! He “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3)! “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).

Filled (satisfied) (07646)(saba) means to be sated (implying sufficiency), filled and so to be satisfied. The first use of this word in Scripture is used in Ex 16:8 "and bread to the full in the morning." God would not skimp on setting the table. It is ironic that the Israelites used the related word (soba derived from saba) in Ex 16:3 describing how they "ate bread to the full." 

And you shall know that I am the LORD your God - In context this "knowing" is intellectual, not intimate spiritual knowledge as when one is in covenant union with Yahweh like Abraham (Ge 15:6+). Paul tells us clearly that "with most (in truth with all except Joshua and Caleb!) of them God was (absolutely) not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. " (1 Cor 10:5) How would Israel know Yahweh as their God? By His gracious provision of meat in the evening and bread in the morning. These supernatural events would be signs pointing to the goodness and grace of Yahweh to provide food to grumblers! This is not only great grace (unmerited favor) but also surpassing mercy (not giving them what they deserved - death!), for in other situations grumbling so angered Yahweh that He took the life of the grumblers! (1 Cor 10:10 - cf Nu 16:41 and Nu 16:45-48) May none of us every underestimate the negative impact of grumbling! In Ex 16:6-7 it says "At evening you will know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD." 

NET Note on shall know - This verse supports the view taken in chap. 6 concerning the verb "to know." Surely the Israelites by now knew that Yahweh was their God. Yes, they did. But they had not experienced what that meant; they had not received the fulfillment of the promises. 

Exodus 16:13  So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.

  • quails - Nu 11:31-33 Ps 78:27-31 Ps 105:40 
  • the dew - Nu 11:9 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp - God provided Israel with plenty of meat in the wilderness. This was a significant display of the mercy of God. This provision of quail was clearly in the LORD's will. The text is not clear but it appears that quail were not daily on the divine menu as was bread. There is another quail episode in the book of Numbers 11 which is quoted below, but this episode occurred at a later time and with different results, specifically calling down the anger of the LORD! The provision of quail as a result of the grumbling in Exodus 16 did not anger the LORD as in Numbers 11. One other point is that this provision of quail covering the camp was supernatural. Quail (Exodus 16:13) were natural enough, but the timing and quantity of their coming constituted a divine providential miracle, specifically the provision of sufficient quail to feed 2 million mouths! 

Quail are mentioned only 4 times in 4 verses (Ex. 16:13; Nu 11:31; Nu 11:32; Ps. 105:40. Ps 78:27 does not use the word quail but clearly is a reference to quail related to the event in Numbers 11, not the event here in Exodus 16.  

Let's look at a comparison of the QUAIL STORIES in Exodus 16 and Numbers 11 -  Careful observation of the passages in context shows that the quail and manna in Exodus 16 are sustenance promised by Yahweh (to grumblers), whereas in Numbers, the quail are punishment for the Israelite’s continued grumbling about having only manna to eat. So for context we see in Numbers 11:4-6 that

"The rabble (MIXTURE OF NON-JEWS, POSSIBLY SOME EGYPTIANS) who were among them had greedy desires (taavah = SAME WORD FOR "DELIGHT" IN Ge 3:6+!); and also the sons of Israel wept again (INDICATING THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME THEY WEPT) and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? 5“ We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, 6 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” (Numbers 11:4-6)

Moses was to “Say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, “Oh that someone would give us meat to eat! For we were well-off in Egypt.” Therefore the LORD will give you meat and you shall eat." 19‘ You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, 20 but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you; because you have rejected the LORD who is among you and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’” (Numbers 11:18-20)

Clearly Israel was grumbling and in their heart going back to Egypt and failing to trust the goodness and grace of God to provide for their physical nourishment. And so we see the result it that God became angry with their grumbling this time and killed many Israelites. 

Now there went forth a wind from the LORD and it brought quail from the sea, and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp and about two cubits deep on the surface of the ground. 32 The people spent all day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers) and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. 33 While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very severe plague. 34So the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had been greedy. (Numbers 11:31-34)

Psalm 78 serves as a commentary not on the Exodus 16 story but the story in Numbers 11

Psalm 78:27-31  When He rained meat (QUAIL) upon them like the dust, Even winged fowl (QUAIL) like the sand of the seas,  28 Then He let them fall in the midst of their camp, Round about their dwellings.  29 So they ate and were well filled, And their desire (SAME WORD USED IN Nu 11:4 of their "greedy desires.") He gave to them.  30 Before they had satisfied their desire (taavah - in this context greedy desire), While their food was in their mouths,  31 The anger of God rose against them And killed some of their stoutest ones, And subdued the choice men of Israel. 

Tyndale Bible Commentary has a helpful note on quail in Numbers 11 - 

A prominent theme in the travel sections of Exodus and Numbers is the supply of food and water and the people’s discontent with God’s provision (Ex 15:22ff <> Nu 20). It is again noticeable how the Red Sea to Sinai (EXODUS 16) and the Sinai to Kadesh (NUMBERS) travelogues run in parallel here. A short murmuring tradition (Ex. 15:23-26 <> Nu 11:1-3) is in both cases followed by a detailed account of the manna and quails (Ex 16 <> Nu 11:4-35). Both Exodus and Numbers date the arrival of the quails in the second month of the Hebrew year (Ex 16:1; Nu 10:11), which would coincide with the northward migration of the quails across the Sinai peninsula. (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries – Numbers)

Criswell -  In the spring (March-April) quail regularly migrate across the Sinai peninsula in large numbers. God used these birds to feed the people. The quail, however, were available only at certain times, while the manna (man hu, Heb., lit. "What is it?") continued every day (Ex 16:15).

And in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp - Each morning the Jews participated in a miracle as they emerged from their tents to find all the nourishment they needed waiting on the dew.

Ligon Duncan writes that "The bread is described, and there is no naturalistic explanation for this what so ever. There have been scholars over the years that have come up with the strangest explanations of how this was some sort of a sap from a bush that is found. There is no way any of that supplies the qualities and the characteristics that are described about this particular bread in the book of Moses."

Exodus 16:13–36
The Sabbath was a weekly tutorial for anxious people. Imagine that you are self-employed with very tight financial margins. Miss a day’s work and your competitors get the upper hand. Miss a day’s pay and you wonder if you will be able to buy groceries. Time is money. Now consider an agrarian economy. Here time might mean survival. Delay planting and you might miss the rain. Take a day off in the midst of harvest and your produce might overripen or even rot. With these risks in mind, the Sabbath was a big deal. It was a test. God was saying through it, “I am the Creator God who will care for your needs. Embedded in the rhythm of your week will be an opportunity to rest. You will do this because I rested on the Sabbath, and you will do it because I continue to be at work on your behalf on the Sabbath.” 

Just when you think you are getting the knack of the manna and are not worrying about tomorrow, you are told to trust your heavenly Father for today and tomorrow. Once again, we can’t help but be astonished at God’s strategy. Worry and fear are about danger, perceived needs, and being out of control. By incorporating the Sabbath into the normal rhythms of life he gives us weekly opportunities to say, “You, God, are in control, and I will practice trusting you by honoring your Sabbath and resting today.”  Edward T. Welch

Exodus 16:14  When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground.

  • the dew - Nu 11:7-9 De 8:3 Ne 9:15 Ps 78:24 105:40 
  • fine as the frost on the ground - Ps 147:16 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. - Exodus 16:31 further describes the bread from heaven as like coriander seed (about the size of a sesame seed), and sweet like honey. Numbers 11:7 says it was the color of bdellium (a pearl-like color). It was either baked or boiled (Exodus 16:23).

Spurgeon - “Animals are often taught through their food. When they could not be reached in any other way, they have been instructed by their hunger, and by their thirst, and by their feeding.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
--Fanny Crosby

Eat and Repeat

We have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna! Numbers 11:6

Today's Scripture & Insight: Exodus 16:14–18

When Kerry and Paul got married, neither one knew how to cook. But one night Kerry decided to try her hand at spaghetti—making so much that the couple had it for dinner again the next day. On the third day, Paul volunteered to cook, doubling the amount of pasta and sauce, hoping the huge pot would last through the weekend. As the couple sat down for dinner that night, however, it was Kerry who confessed, “I’m sick of spaghetti.”

Just imagine eating the same meal as the Israelites did—for forty years. Each morning they gathered the sweet “super food” God supplied and cooked it (no leftovers unless the next day was the Sabbath, Exodus 16:23–26). Sure, they got creative—baking it, boiling it (v. 23). But, oh, how they missed the good food they had enjoyed in Egypt (v. 3; Numbers 11:1–9), even though that nourishment had come at the high cost of cruelty and enslavement!

We too may sometimes resent that our life isn’t what it once was. Or perhaps the “sameness” of life has caused us to be discontent. But Exodus 16 tells of God’s faithful provision to the Israelites, causing them to trust and depend on His care each day.

God promises to give us everything we need. He satisfies our longings and fills up our soul with “good things” (Psalm 107:9 esv). By:  Cindy Hess Kasper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

In what ways has God provided for you in the past? What longing is keeping you from trusting Him more?

Father, thank You for Your promise to faithfully care for me and provide what I need.

Exodus 16:15  When the sons 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 which the LORD has given you to eat. 

  • What is it, Ex 16:31,33 De 8:3,16 Jos 5:12 Ne 9:15,20 Joh 6:31,32,49,58 1Co 10:3 Heb 9:4 Rev 2:17 
  • It is the bread - Ex 16:4 Nu 21:5 Pr 9:5 Lu 12:30 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" - When the Hebrews see the flaky substance, they ask ‘mān hû”, literally, ‘What is it?’ The word Mān is unique in Hebrew—the normal way of asking ‘What?’ is măh (used later in the verse in the phrase, ‘what it was’). (Currid)

For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. - Henry Morris - This is the miraculous "bread from heaven" (John 6:31) provided for the millions of Israelites in the wilderness for forty years: always sufficient, never too much, never on the Sabbath. Skeptics have tried to identify manna with various naturally occurring substances of the desert but none can meet the specifications set forth in scripture. Its supernatural provision was taken by Christ Himself as a type of His own coming down from heaven to "give life unto the world" (John 6:33).

Phillip Ryken on he miracle of manna - A careful examination of the evidence thus shows that the manna in the wilderness was a genuine, divine miracle. This is the way the Bible consistently presents it. Moses called it “the bread the LORD has given you to eat” (Ex 16:15). The psalmist spoke of it as “the bread of heaven” (Ps 105:40; cf. Ps 78:24) and “the bread of angels” (Ps 78:25). Similarly, the Apostle Paul described it as “spiritual food” (1 Cor. 10:3), meaning “supernatural food.” Manna was the original wonder bread. (Ibid)

Exodus 16:15 What Is It?

When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” Exodus 16:15

My mother taught Sunday school for decades. One week she wanted to explain how God supplied food for the Israelites in the wilderness. To make the story come alive, she created something to represent “manna” for the kids in her class. She cut bread into small pieces and topped them with honey. Her recipe was inspired by the Bible’s description of manna that says it “tasted like wafers made with honey” (Ex. 16:31).

When the Israelites first encountered God’s bread from heaven, it appeared on the ground outside their tents like frost. “When [they] saw it, they said to each other, ‘What is it?’ ” (v. 15). The Hebrew word man means “what,” so they called it manna. They discovered they could grind it and form it into loaves or cook it in a pot (Num. 11:7-8). Whatever it was, it had a baffling arrival (Ex. 16:4,14), a unique consistency (v. 14), and a short expiration date (vv. 19-20).

Sometimes God provides for us in surprising ways. This reminds us that He is not bound by our expectations, and we can’t predict what He will choose to do. While we wait, focusing on who He is rather than what we think He should do will help us find joy and satisfaction in our relationship with Him.

Dear God, please help me to freely accept Your provision and the way You choose to deliver it. Thank You for caring for me and meeting my needs.

Those who let God provide will always be satisfied.

Exodus 16:16  "This is what the LORD has commanded, 'Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.'"

NET  Exodus 16:16 "This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Each person is to gather from it what he can eat, an omer per person according to the number of your people; each one will pick it up for whoever lives in his tent.'"

NLT  Exodus 16:16 These are the LORD's instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts for each person in your tent."

ESV  Exodus 16:16 This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.'"


Remember these instructions/commands are given to test their hearts, and to bless their hearts if they obey. If they disobey, their disobedience will disclose the evil tendency in their hearts (even as it still does today in our hearts every time we disobey!)

This is what the LORD has commanded, 'Gather of it every man as much as he should eat - As much as he should eat simply means "according to his appetite."

Guzik - The bread from heaven was to be gathered on an individual or a family basis. God did not command the creation of a tribal manna gathering and distribution center. Every household had to provide for itself, and a rich family could not hire a poor family to do their work for them.

You shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent - The point is no hoarding. An omer is approximately half a gallon.

Related Resources:

Exodus 16:17  The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little.

NET  Exodus 16:17 The Israelites did so, and they gathered– some more, some less.

NLT  Exodus 16:17 So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little.

ESV  Exodus 16:17 And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less.


As they say "So far, so good!"

The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little - They finally obeyed. And surprise, surprise, Yahweh precisely met their needs so that no one had too much or too little. 

Exodus 16:18  When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat.

NET  Exodus 16:18 When they measured with an omer, the one who gathered much had nothing left over, and the one who gathered little lacked nothing; each one had gathered what he could eat.

NLT  Exodus 16:18 But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed.

ESV  Exodus 16:18 But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat.


This title speaks to the goodness and grace of Yahweh. When He gives, we have no waste and no want. As Paul said " my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Php 4:19+).

When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat - What is the point? There were different sized families and individuals. A small child would not need the same amount as an adult. And so the gathering was proportionate to the needs of the families, so that nothing was left over (wasted) and none of the families failed to have enough manna. Every family had just what they needed to fill their stomachs and nourish their bodies.

Exodus 16:19  Moses said to them, "Let no man leave any of it until morning."


And so we see another test of their hearts! 

Moses said to them, "Let no man leave any of it until morning." - No saving manna for a "rainy day." The point is that they must constantly believe that God would provide for them each and every day.

Exodus 16:20  But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them.

NET  Exodus 16:20 But they did not listen to Moses; some kept part of it until morning, and it was full of worms and began to stink, and Moses was angry with them.

NLT  Exodus 16:20 But some of them didn't listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them.

ESV  Exodus 16:20 But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.

  • bred worms - Mt 6:19 Lu 12:15,33 Heb 13:5 Jas 5:2,3 
  • and Moses - Nu 12:3 16:15 Mk 3:5 10:14 Eph 4:26 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Recall that in Ex 16:4 Yahweh told Moses the instructions for gathering bread or manna and he specifically stated the purposes was to "test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction." In other words the test was whether they would obey or disobey. Here we see they flunked the one aspect of the "bread gathering test." It would not be their last failure as the following verses show. 

But - A sad term of contrast! They had been "running well" in Exodus 16:17, but now a "change of direction," a change of heart occurs.

They did not listen to Moses - Or stated another way - They did not listen to Jehvovah! Their heart of rebellion rose up again. At least the text says they and not all. This suggests that some of the Israelites refrained from this seventh day search. 

They needed to hear Jesus words in Mt 6:31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’

And some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them - As stated above, they failed the "test," and in a sense they in turn tested the LORD. He said don't and they said we will! They were saying "We're not sure You will give enough bread tomorrow!" The twofold result was worms in the manna and righteous anger in Moses!

THOUGHT - Is this test not a test of their faith to see if they would trust that God's giving is always sufficient to meet their needs (but not their "greeds"). This did not please God and He allows worms to grow up FAST! Bread on the counter grows mold in a week or two, but certainly this does not occur in fresh bread overnight. So as strange as it seems, the worms are surely a supernatural sign from God of His displeasure at their "faith failure," their failure to trust Him to be their all Sufficient Supply. O, how we mimic Israel in our own lives in manifold ways, failing to trust His supply of our needs and instead too often willfully seeking to gratify our greeds! O God forgive us. Such faith failures are not pleasing to Yahweh for as the writer of Hebrews says " without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.". (Heb 11:6+). And His "reward" is always sufficient in quality and quantity. We are so often like Judah in Jer 2:13 "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water."

Currid - Moses responds to the Hebrews’ disbelief and disobedience with anger. There is no stronger verb in Hebrew to reflect wrath/anger than the one used here. The Hebrews are again living by sight and not by faith; Moses is therefore highly indignant.

Exodus 16:21  They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt.

  • Pr 6:6-11 Ec 9:10 12:1 Mt 6:33  Joh 12:35 2Co 6:2 

They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt - While this was a miracle, the people still had a responsibility. "So they gathered it each morning." This would have imprinted a good work ethic -- sleep in and you starve that day! And to reemphasize they were entirely dependent upon God's new supply to come in the morning.

Oh! how rich the grace which supplies us so continually,
and doth not refrain itself because of our ingratitude!
-- Spurgeon

NET on morning by morning - Heb "morning by morning." This is an example of the repetition of words to express the distributive sense; here the meaning is "every morning" 

Adrian Rogers applies it would melt - The Bible says "when the sun waxed hot, it melted"—it went away. No wonder the psalmist said, " In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. " (Psalm 5:3). When do you get your (SPIRITUAL) bread? Early in the day. You give the best part of the day to the Lord. You get fresh bread every day, and you cannot live on the memory of food. Daily, you go to the Lord—in the morning. Now, let's talk, therefore, about some habits. I said there must be hunger; there must be humility; there must be habit. Now, we're going to talk about some habits.
2. You Must Gather the Bread at the Right Time
First of all, when do you gather the bread? The right time. Now, when is the right time? Well, obviously, in the morning. What part of the morning? The best part of the morning for you. I don't know when that is. I know when it is for me. When I wake up in the morning, I greet the Lord, but I don't try to have my quiet time immediately. I try to get my motor running for a little bit. Joyce is a springer, but I am a groper. Now, my motor gets to running faster and faster the longer I stay up. And so, I have to get the cobwebs out of my mind just a little bit. It doesn't mean that I'm not hungry to meet the Lord; it is that I am hungry to meet the Lord, and I want to meet the Lord at the right time. I find a time that is the optimum time for me. It is not the first waking moment. My first waking moment is to greet the Lord and so forth, but you find the right time.
3. You Must Make Time
Now, let me say this: that Jesus made time. He didn't find time; He made time. You will have to make time. And, there's something in all of us called the old flesh that doesn't want to pray. I've been known to trail with Jesus, now, for many, many years. There's still a part of me that has to be dragged to the place of prayer. Now, I know you're much more holy than I, but there's a part of my nature that does not want to pray; and, if I were to listen to that part, I would not pray.
I remember hearing the saintly Sidlow Baxter say—he said, "I realized that I needed to spend more time with God in prayer. And, my emotions said, 'I don't want to pray,' but I wanted to pray. And so, I said to Will, 'Will, let's you and I pray whether Emotion will gather with us or not.' So," Sidlow said, "Will and I decided, if Emotion wouldn't come with us, we were going to pray anyway. So, Will and I got down and prayed." And, he said, "After I did that for a while, Emotion came and gathered with us, and he's been with us for all this time."
So, you just have to say to Emotion, "Look, whether you want to pray or not, we're going to pray." And, you pray when you feel like it; you pray when you don't feel like it; you pray until you do feel like it. But, in order to have a time, there must be the right time.
Now, the right time is not before you get out of bed in the morning. Don't you try horizontal meditation; it's a perfect cure for insomnia. Get out of bed in the morning, and don't just say, "Well, I have my quiet time at the end of the day"...

'Give us this day our dally bread.'
Back of the loaf—is the snowy flour,
And back of the flour—the mill;
And back of the mill—is the wheat, and the shower,
And the sun, and the Father's will.

J R Miller - God always has some way to provide for the needs of His people. He is not limited to ordinary means. He never works needless miracles. He did not send manna while the people were in Goshen, because there was no need for it then. But here in the wilderness, where food could not be gotten in any ordinary way, He supplied it supernaturally...In this method of providing, God was teaching all future generations a lesson. When the Master gave the disciples the Lord's Prayer, He put this same thought of life into it, for He taught us to say: "Give us this day—our daily bread." This is a most valuable lesson for every Christian to learn. We should make a little fence of trust around each day, and never allow any care or any anxiety to break in. God does not provide in advance for our needs. We cannot get grace today—for tomorrow's duties; and if we try to bear tomorrow's cares and burdens today—we shall break down in the attempt.

TIME comes to us, not in years, not even in weeks—but in little days. We have nothing to do with 'life in the aggregate' —that great bulk of duties, anxieties, struggles, trials and needs, which belong to a year or even to a month. We really have nothing to do even with tomorrow.

Our sole business is with the one little day now passing, and the one day's burdens will never crush us; we can easily carry them until the sun goes down. We can always get along for one short day—and that is really, all we ever have.

The Divine purpose in all this experience comes out here, "In this way I will test them, to see whether or not they will follow My instructions." God is always testing us. Trials test us—whether or not we will submit with humility and obedience to the experiences that are sore and painful. Life's needs test us—whether we will trust God in the time of extremity or not.

None the less, do the gifts and favors of God test us. They test our gratitude. Joy tests us as well as sorrow. Some people forget God, when all things go well and they have only prosperity. Do we remember God always—as the Giver of each new blessing? Are we grateful to Him for all that we receive? These favors also test our faith. Do we still lean on Him—while we have plenty? Ofttimes one who turns to God when help is needed—fails to look to Him when the hand is full. The Divine mercies also test our obedience. Do we obey God as carefully and follow Him as closely and trustingly, when our tables are full—as when the pressure of poverty or need drives us to Him? Every day is a probation for us.

In the midst of this great mercy of manna, God taught the people to remember the Sabbath. On the sixth day they were to gather and prepare twice as much food as on other days. The reason was that on the Sabbath no work was allowed. No manna fell on that day. There are several interesting things to notice here. While on other days, any manna stored up—would rot; the extra day's portion gathered on the sixth day remained fresh and pure for use on the Sabbath. Still further, on the morning of the Sabbath, no manna fell as on other days. Thus God taught the sacredness of His own day.

He teaches us also here that in order to keep the day as it ought to be kept, we should prepare for it the day before. The people were to gather the Sabbath's portion on the sixth day. There would seem to be in this provision and preparation in advance, a suggestion of the way we may best observe our Christian Sabbath. Some of us remember certain old-fashioned times in the country, when on Saturday evening careful preparations were made for the Sabbath, so that there would be no needless work done on the Lord's Day. Wood was cut and carried in, all the implements of worldly labor were put away, boots and shoes were cleaned and blackened, coffee was ground and food cooked, so far as possible—in a word, everything was done that could be done beforehand to insure the most restful Sabbath possible. This old-fashioned custom is a good one to keep in vogue always. Very much of Sabbath enjoyment and profit, will always depend upon the measure of preparation we make for it in advance.

The Lord spoke of this manna miracle as an exhibition of His glory. "At evening, then you shall know that the Lord has brought you out from the land of Egypt; and in the morning, then you shall see the glory of the Lord!" The supply of food was an exhibition of God's glory. We may see the same glory in every evening's and morning's blessings, which a thoughtful Providence brings to us. We think only of the unusual, or the supernatural, as manifesting the glory of God. We forget that this Divine glory is shown just as really and as wonderfully in every day's new blessings. The miracle of God's daily Providence is infinitely more stupendous, than the feeding of a prophet for a few months from an inexhaustible handful of meal; the feeding of five thousand in Galilee with a few loaves and fishes; or even the feeding of a nation with manna for forty years. If the single special miracle shows glory, what does the great continuous miracle of each day's common blessings, year after year, and century after century, show?

Let us learn to see the glory of God in every piece of bread which comes to our table, in every drop of water which glistens on a leaf in the morning sun, in every blade of grass and bursting bud and blooming flower in field or garden.

One special lesson that God wished the people to learn—was trust. So He rebuked their complainings and murmurings when they found fault, and became afraid when they had hardships to meet. "The Lord hears your murmurings which you murmur against Him!" Exodus 16:8. This is startling! Does God really hear every discontented word we speak? Does He hear when we grumble about the weather, about the hard winter, about the late spring, about the dry summer, about the wet harvest? Does He hear when we fret and murmur about the drought, about the high winds, about the storms? Does He hear when we complain about our circumstances, about the hardness of our lot, about our losses and disappointments?

If we could get into our hearts and keep there continually, the consciousness that every word we speak is heard in heaven, and falls upon God's ears before it falls upon any other ear—would we murmur as we now do? We are always on our guard when we think anyone we love and honor is within hearing, and speak only proper words then. Are we as careful what we say in the hearing of our Father? We are careful, too, never to speak words which would give pain to the hearts of those we love dearly. Are we as careful not to say anything that will give pain to Christ?

There are many interesting points of analogy, between the manna and Christ.

  • The manna is called "bread from heaven." "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever!" John 6:51
  • The manna was indispensable—without it the people would have perished. Without Christ our souls must perish.
  • The manna was a free gift from God—there was nothing to pay for it. Christ is God's gift, coming to us without money and without price.
  • Yet the manna had to be gathered by the people, Christ must be received and appropriated by personal faith. "Take, eat," runs the formula of the holy communion. The bread is offered to us—but we must take it and we must eat it. So must we take Christ when He is offered to us.
  • The manna came in great abundance, enough for all. Just so, there is such abundance in Christ that He can supply all the needs of my soul, and of every soul who will feed upon Him. No one ever came hungry to Him—and found no bread.
  • Manna had to be gathered each day, a supply for that one day. We must feed upon Christ daily. We cannot lay up supplies of grace for any future. We cannot feed tomorrow, on today's bread.
  • The manna had to be gathered early, before the heat of the sun melted it. We should seek the blessings of Christ's grace in life's early morning before the hot suns of care and trial beat upon us.

C H Spurgeon - “They gathered manna every morning.”  —Exodus 16:21

Labour to maintain a sense of thine entire dependence upon the Lord’s good will and pleasure for the continuance of thy richest enjoyments. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus, or thou art undone for ever.

Old anointings will not suffice to impart unction to thy spirit; thine head must have fresh oil poured upon it from the golden horn of the sanctuary, or it will cease from its glory. To-day thou mayest be upon the summit of the mount of God, but he who has put thee there must keep thee there, or thou wilt sink far more speedily than thou dreamest. Thy mountain only stands firm when he settles it in its place; if he hide his face, thou wilt soon be troubled. If the Saviour should see fit, there is not a window through which thou seest the light of heaven which he could not darken in an instant. Joshua bade the sun stand still, but Jesus can shroud it in total darkness. He can withdraw the joy of thine heart, the light of thine eyes, and the strength of thy life; in his hand thy comforts lie, and at his will they can depart from thee.

This hourly dependence our Lord is determined that we shall feel and recognize, for he only permits us to pray for “daily bread,” and only promises that “as our days our strength shall be.” Is it not best for us that it should be so, that we may often repair to his throne, and constantly be reminded of his love?

Oh! how rich the grace which supplies us so continually, and doth not refrain itself because of our ingratitude!

The golden shower never ceases, the cloud of blessing tarries evermore above our habitation.

O Lord Jesus, we would bow at thy feet, conscious of our utter inability to do anything without thee, and in every favour which we are privileged to receive, we would adore thy blessed name and acknowledge thine unexhausted love.

Exodus 16:22  Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses,

NET  Exodus 16:22 And on the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, two omers per person; and all the leaders of the community came and told Moses.

NLT  Exodus 16:22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much as usual-- four quarts for each person instead of two. Then all the leaders of the community came and asked Moses for an explanation.

ESV  Exodus 16:22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses,


Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one - The question is how did the people know to gather twice as much on the sixth day? Had Moses told them? We see Moses explained it to the elders in Ex 16:23. Somehow the people must have known.

When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses - NLT = "Then all the leaders of the community came and asked Moses for an explanation."

NET suggests that "the meaning here is probably that these leaders, the natural heads of the families in the clans, saw that people were gathering twice as much and they reported this to Moses, perhaps afraid it would stink again. (NET)

Exodus 16:23  then he said to them, "This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning."

  • rest - Ex 20:8-11 31:15 35:3 Ge 2:2,3 Lev 23:3 Mk 2:27,28 Lu 23:56 Rev 1:10 
  • bake - Nu 11:8 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


then he said to them, "This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD - Sabbath observance is better translated "a time of cessation from work." (NET) God essentially forced them to honor the Sabbath by not providing any bread from heaven on the Sabbath day. The had no choice. The had to rest from looking for manna. Moses explains this day is a "holy Sabbath" (Neh 9:14) and it is "to the LORD." (NLT has "for the LORD.") The idea of holy is that this day is set apart by men for the LORD. In other words it was to a special day which the person dedicated to Yahweh.

Life Application Study Bible - The Israelites were not to work on the Sabbath-not even to cook food. Why? God knew that the busy routine of daily living could distract people from worshiping him. It is so easy to let work, family responsibilities, and recreation crowd our schedules so tightly that we don't take time to worship. Carefully guard your time with God.

Currid - It is a ‘holy’ day—that is, one that is set apart, unique and special; that, of course, reflects the account of the original creation: ‘Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made’ (Gen. 2:3). 

Sabbath observance (solemn rest) (07677)(shabbathon from shabath = to cease, desist) most often meant a time to rest, a special holiday, a day of rest, a Sabbath feast. The day belongs to the Lord (Ex 35:2), to Israel ("to you," Lev. 16:31) and to the land itself (Lev 25:4f). The noun refers to: (1) the weekly Sabbath day (Exo. 31:15), (2) the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:31), (3) the sabbatical year (Lev. 25:4), (4) the feast of trumpets (Lev 23:24) and (5) the first and eighth days of the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:39). Every used of shabbathon is translated in the Septuagint (Lxx) with the noun anapausis, which means a ceasing from activity (an interruption) or a resting from labor or carrying burdens (used by Jesus in Mt 11:29+).

Shabbathon - 11x in 10v - complete rest(4), rest(4), sabbath observance(1), sabbatical(1), solemn rest(1). Exod. 16:23; Exod. 31:15; Exod. 35:2; Lev. 16:31; Lev. 23:3; Lev. 23:24; Lev. 23:32; Lev. 23:39; Lev. 25:4; Lev. 25:5

Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning  - "Two basic interpretations have been proposed for the general command of this verse. The first is that all the manna had to be baked or boiled on the sixth day so that the Sabbath would not be profaned by cooking on it; the second view is that the Israelites were to bake and boil only the manna which they needed on the sixth day; uncooked manna would not be contaminated on the Sabbath. In other words, the law had nothing to do with cooking on the Sabbath. On the basis of the idem per idem formula, the latter explanation appears to be the most appropriate." (Currid)

Related Resources:

Exodus 16:23 Rest by Dr. Woodrow Kroll

In 24 hours the average adult accomplishes much: his heart beats 103,689 times, his blood travels 168 million miles, he breathes 23,040 times, he inhales 438 cubic feet of air, he eats 3 1/2 pounds of food and drinks 2.9 quarts of liquid, he speaks 4,800 words, he moves 750 muscles, his nails grow .000046 inch, and he exercises 7 million brain cells. It's no wonder we need rest!

When God established the laws governing the lives of the Israelite people, He built into their schedule a time for rest. Physically it enabled their bodies to recuperate. Spiritually it reminded them that their salvation was not complete. They needed a spiritual "rest" that would come only when the Messiah would take away their sins. The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that even though the Jewish people practiced Sabbath-keeping, the real "rest" was a future event. He declared, "For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God" (Heb. 4:8-9).

In the New Testament the command to "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy" is the only one of the Ten Commandments not repeated--and for good reason. The spiritual rest that the Old Testament saints looked forward to and which the Sabbath represented is now a reality. Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28+).

Taking a day to rest is still an important part of maintaining a healthy body. But it's a physical necessity, not a spiritual law. Now we can rejoice in the true rest that comes in Christ.

Rest is a matter of wisdom, not law.

Exodus 16:24  So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it.

NET  Exodus 16:24 So they put it aside until the morning, just as Moses had commanded, and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it.

NLT  Exodus 16:24 So they put some aside until morning, just as Moses had commanded. And in the morning the leftover food was wholesome and good, without maggots or odor.

ESV  Exodus 16:24 So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it.


So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it - Obedience brings blessing. 

Exodus 16:25  Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field.

NET  Exodus 16:25 Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the area.

NLT  Exodus 16:25 Moses said, "Eat this food today, for today is a Sabbath day dedicated to the LORD. There will be no food on the ground today.

ESV  Exodus 16:25 Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field.

Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field - Can you envision a few Hebrews getting up to go check for manna? Well you don't have to guess, just keep reading!

Exodus 16:26  "Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.


Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none. - Repeats the fact that there will be no manna. Rabbis often taught using repetition. The resting from collecting manna was a like a giant illustration of God's desire for men to rest from their labor on the seventh day. It was as if they were being divinely conditioned to understand and practice the Sabbath. 

Exodus 16:27  It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none.


Advent means coming and this was an inappropriate "coming" to look for manna!

It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none - Amazing! They found no manna, but they did find mercy! Why? This is willful disobedience. The fact hat Yahweh did not kill them is another example of His bountiful mercies to those who justly deserved to be punished. Does He not show the same mercies (plural) to us today, for we all commit sins daily, some even with defiance and willfulness! 

Guzik - God’s word was true and they found none. This was a powerful lesson, teaching Israel to trust what God said before they had proven it true in experience. People today still look for life and fulfillment in places God has said there would be none.

Exodus 16:28  Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?

  • Ex 10:3 Nu 14:11 20:12 2Ki 17:14 Ps 78:10,22 81:13,14 106:13 Isa 7:9,13 Jer 4:14 9:6 Eze 5:6 20:13,16 Mk 9:19 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Again, God is testing the obedience and they fail miserably.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions? - Interesting that Yahweh seems to address this to Moses as if he were disobeying! However the verb you refuse is plural, and so it is addressed to the nation and not to Moses. 

Exodus 16:29  "See, the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day."

  • has given - Ex 31:13 Ne 9:14 Isa 58:13,14 Eze 20:12 
  • remain - Lu 23:56 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


See, the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day - Note that see is a command. The Septuagint gives the command in the aorist imperative signifying "Just do it! Don't miss or misunderstand this truth!"

Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." - Moses repeats the instruction for those who were hard of hearing! Notice this is not only an instruction but is actually a double command (see verbs in red) emphasizing its importance.

Beecher -   The Lord hath given you the Sabbath. Through the week, we go down into the valleys of care and shadow. Our sabbaths should be hills of light and joy in God’s presence; and so, as time rolls by, we shall go on from mountain-top to mountain-top, till at last we catch the glory of the gate, and enter in to go no more out forever.

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


So - Term of conclusion. It light of the 3 commands in the preceding verse, it looks like the people "got it!"

The people rested on the seventh day - Leviticus will amplify the meaning declaring "‘For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings." (Lev 23:3)

Deuteronomy adds 

Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13 ‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. (Dt 5:12-14)

The Septuagint translates shabath with the verb sabbatizo (No uses in NT - 5 uses in OT = Ex 16:30; Lev 23:32; 26:34; 26:35; 2 Chr 36:21) meaning to keep the Sabbath 

Rested (07673)(shabath) means to cease to repose, to rest, to rid of, to still, to put away, to put an end to, to cause to cease, to leave. Most uses refer to rest or abstain from labor (Ex 5:5), especially on the seventh day (Ex 20:8-11). It is the root verb of Sabbath the time to be set aside for rest. Of God resting after the completion of creation (Ge 2:2, 2:3 = "He rested", Ex 31:17, describing the Sabbath - Ex 34:21) The basic meaning of shabath is well illustrated in the declaration that day and night "shall not cease." (Ge 8:22). Israel will not "cease from being a nation." (Jer 31:30), a prophetic sign of God's faithfulness! The "three men ceased answering Job." (Job 32:1) In Joshua, the verb expresses a cessation of the provision of manna by God to the Israelites (Josh. 5:12). The land was also depicted as enjoying a rest (Lev 25:2, Lev 26:34, 35). The people of God are to rest (Ex. 16:30). "An end to strife."(Pr 18:18). "Put an end to the arrogance of the proud." (Isa 13:11)

Shabath - 63v -  brought to an end(1), cease(21), ceased(7), ceases(3), did away(2), disappear(1), do away(1), eliminate(3), gone(1), hear...more(1), lacking(1), left you without(1), made an end(1), make an end(1), no*(1), observe(1), observe the rest(1), put a stop(3), put an end(3), puts an end(1), remove(2), removed(1), rest(3), rested(3), silence(1), stop(2), stopped(1). Gen. 2:2; Gen. 2:3; Gen. 8:22; Exod. 5:5; Exod. 12:15; Exod. 16:30; Exod. 23:12; Exod. 31:17; Exod. 34:21; Lev. 2:13; Lev. 26:6; Lev. 26:34; Lev. 26:35; Deut. 32:26; Jos. 5:12; Ruth 4:14; 2 Ki. 23:5; 2 Ki. 23:11; 2 Chr. 16:5; Neh. 4:11; Neh. 6:3; Job 32:1; Ps. 8:2; Ps. 46:9; Ps. 89:44; Ps. 119:119; Prov. 18:18; Prov. 22:10; Isa. 13:11; Isa. 14:4; Isa. 16:10; Isa. 17:3; Isa. 21:2; Isa. 24:8; Isa. 30:11; Isa. 33:8; Jer. 7:34; Jer. 16:9; Jer. 31:36; Jer. 36:29; Jer. 48:33; Jer. 48:35; Lam. 5:14; Lam. 5:15; Ezek. 6:6; Ezek. 7:24; Ezek. 12:23; Ezek. 16:41; Ezek. 23:27; Ezek. 23:48; Ezek. 26:13; Ezek. 30:10; Ezek. 30:13; Ezek. 30:18; Ezek. 33:28; Ezek. 34:10; Ezek. 34:25; Dan. 9:27; Dan. 11:18; Hos. 1:4; Hos. 2:11; Hos. 7:4; Amos 8:4

Exodus 16:31  The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.

  • called the name - Ex 16:15 
  • and it was - Nu 11:6,7 Song 2:3 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


The house of Israel named it manna - This name means, What is that? It is based on the question asked in Exodus 16:15.

and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey - "God gave Israel good tasting food. He didn’t give them tasteless gruel or pasty porridge. Since it could be baked like bread or cake (Exodus 16:23), eating manna was like eating sweet bread every day." (gUZIK)

Note on Ex 16:31, Nu 11:7-8 - How could a soul which has tried again to satisfy itself with Egypt’s food, find manna the same thing after restoration? The pure and sweet manna which has sustained the virgin soul which has unwaveringly followed the guiding pillar, must for the restored soul, have its color changed into that of tried gold, and its taste to that of healing oil. Nothing else would supply its need now.

Life Application Study Bible -  For the Israelites the manna was a gift-it came every day and was just what they needed. It satisfied their temporary physical need. In John 6:48-51 Jesus compares himself to manna. Christ is our daily bread who satisfies our eternal, spiritual need.

Steven Cole - Moses tells us what the manna tasted like (Exod.16:31): “wafers with honey.” That description satisfies our curiosity, but also it teaches us an important lesson: Psalm 19:10 says that God’s Word is “sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” Psalm 34:8 puts it, “O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Or Ps. 119:103, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Moses later explained (Deut. 8:3), “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” He went on to promise them that the Lord would bring them into a good land of abundance, where they would eat and be satisfied. God’s word is sufficient and satisfying for life and godliness! So the manna teaches us that we are to look to the Lord to satisfy our every need and that when we taste of His grace and glory, we are satisfied with His goodness

From D L Moody's library - How could a soul which has tried again to satisfy itself with Egypt’s food, find manna the same thing after restoration? The pure and sweet manna which has sustained the virgin soul which has unwaveringly followed the guiding pillar, must for the restored soul, have its color changed into that of tried gold, and its taste to that of healing oil. Nothing else would supply its need now.

Question: "What was manna?"

Answer: During the forty years between the time the Israelites left Egypt and entered the Promised Land, they faced harsh conditions, including a scarcity of food. To alleviate this problem, God miraculously provided the Israelites with “bread from heaven,” called “manna.” The manna appeared each morning, and the Israelites were given specific instructions on gathering it (see Exodus chapter 16). What was manna? Interestingly, the Israelites asked the very same question: “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’” (Exodus 16:15). The Hebrew word translated “manna” literally means “what is it?”

The Bible nowhere discusses the chemical composition of manna. All we are told is that “it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31). Numbers 11:7 states that manna’s appearance was like “bdellium” or “resin.” Psalm 78:24 refers to manna as “grain from heaven,” and the next verse calls it “bread of angels.” So, manna seems to have been literal bread that God caused to miraculously appear each morning during the Israelites’ wilderness wanderings. The miracle of manna ceased shortly after the Israelites entered the Promised Land (Joshua 5:12).

Far more important than manna’s physical qualities is what manna foreshadowed. Manna is a type, or foreshadowing, of Jesus. After Jesus miraculously fed the 5,000, they wanted Him to “give us this bread always” (John 6:34). Jesus tried to get their attention off of physical bread and onto the true “bread of life.” “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. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. . . . I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:32-35). Sadly, the people could not get their minds off of physical bread long enough to understand the spiritual truth Jesus was declaring (John 6:36-59). They were more concerned with the condition of their stomachs than the condition of their souls.

Just as God provided manna to the Israelites to save them from starvation, He has provided Jesus Christ for the salvation of our souls. The literal manna temporarily saved the Israelites from physical death. The spiritual manna saves us from eternal death. “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die” (John 6:49-50).

Exodus 16:32  Then Moses said, "This is what the LORD has commanded, 'Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.'"

NET  Exodus 16:32 Moses said, "This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Fill an omer with it to be kept for generations to come, so that they may see the food I fed you in the desert when I brought you out from the land of Egypt.'"

NLT  Exodus 16:32 Then Moses said, "This is what the LORD has commanded: Fill a two-quart container with manna to preserve it for your descendants. Then later generations will be able to see the food I gave you in the wilderness when I set you free from Egypt."

ESV  Exodus 16:32 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.'"

  • Ps 103:1,2 Ps 105:5 Ps 111:4,5 Lu 22:19 Heb 2:1 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Then Moses said, "This is what the LORD has commanded, 'Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.' - What is the purpose? Clearly this would serve as reminder to Israel that Jehovah is their trustworthy provided. There was not one night in 40 years that the Hebrews went to bed and had to worry about having food the next morning! Is this not a miracle also? This omerful would not rot or grow foul, because it was ordained by God to have a holy purpose. What was the purpose? To see that Yahweh provided for 40 years! If He could provide for 2 million people for 40 years, how much more can He take care of His own today and meet their needs (not their greeds)?

John Trapp - Monuments and memorials of God’s great mercies are to be set up, lest, as it fares with children, eaten bread be soon forgotten.

Exodus 16:33  Moses said to Aaron, "Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations." 

Moses said to Aaron, "Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations." - This pot full of the bread from heaven was later put into the ark of the covenant, referred to here as the Testimony (Hebrews 9:4).

Throughout your generations was to teach future generations of Israel how God provided for his people.

Currid - This section underscores God’s great and continual provision for the house of Israel. It is not a one-off provision, but ‘a continual feast’, to quote Matthew Henry. Manna rained from heaven for forty years, and that demonstrates, in Henry’s words, ‘how constant the care of providence is’. And the manna never failed, even in the light of the people’s ingratitude. Despite Israel’s great sins of murmuring and rebellion, ‘God’s special bounty’, as Calvin calls it, came daily and yearly. Therefore, a memorial pot of manna was to be set in the tabernacle; it was there to witness to the magnitude, the glorious nature and the graciousness of the miracle.

Question: What was inside the ark of the covenant?

Answer: Interestingly, the most complete inventory of the contents of the ark of the covenant is found in the New Testament: Hebrews 9:4 says that the Most Holy Place had “the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.” The stone tablets were those on which Moses had written the Ten Commandments.

At various times in Israel’s history, it seems that various items were in the ark of the covenant. When God first gave Moses the instructions on building the ark, He said, “Put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law, which I will give you” (Exodus 25:16).

Sometime during the wilderness wanderings, God commanded that a bowl of manna be added to the ark’s cargo: “Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.’ As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preserved” (Exodus 16:33–34).

After the rebellion of Korah, God commanded the leader of each tribe of Israel to bring a staff to the tabernacle. The name of each leader was inscribed in his staff; the tribe of Levi bore Aaron’s name. God instructed that the staffs be placed in the tabernacle overnight. The next morning, Aaron’s rod “had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds” (Numbers 17:8) as a sign of God’s blessing on the Levitical priesthood. God then said, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious” (verse 10).

So, by the time Israel reached the Promised Land, the ark was associated with the items mentioned in Hebrews 9:4: the stone tablets, the bowl of manna, and the staff of Aaron.

When King Solomon’s temple was finished, the king had the ark of the covenant, along with all the other furnishings of the tabernacle, brought to the new temple’s dedication. At that time, the biblical historian notes that “there was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb” (1 Kings 8:9; cf. 2 Chronicles 5:10).

There are two possible ways to reconcile 1 Kings 8:9 with Hebrews 9:4. One is that the ark in Moses’ time contained all three items mentioned in Hebrews but, by Solomon’s time hundreds of years later, only the stone tablets remained. The other items could have been removed in Eli’s time by the men of Beth Shemesh when “they looked into the ark of the Lord” (1 Samuel 6:19). Before that, the ark was in the possession of the Philistines for a time, and they could have removed some of the ark’s contents. It could also be that Solomon himself had the manna and the staff removed from the ark and set nearby in the same room at the time of the temple’s dedication.

Another possibility is that the bowl of manna and Aaron’s staff were not usually inside the ark of the covenant, but rather beside it. God’s command in Exodus 16:33 was for Moses to place the manna “before the LORD” (ESV) or “in a sacred place before the LORD” (NLT). Similarly, the staff was to be placed “before the testimony” (Numbers 17:10, ESV) or “permanently before the Ark of the Covenant” (NLT). So, the manna and the staff were kept in the same place as the tablets of stone, but it’s possible they were not, strictly speaking, inside the ark.

It’s also quite possible that the bowl of manna and Aaron’s staff were carried inside the ark every time the ark was moved. When the ark was at rest in the Most Holy Place, the manna and the staff were placed beside or in front of the ark. But, while the ark was in transit, the most practical place to carry the manna and the rod was inside the ark.

Exodus 16:34  As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the Testimony, to be kept.

  • Ex 25:16,21 27:21 30:6,36 31:18 38:21 40:20 Nu 1:50,53 17:10 De 10:5 1Ki 8:9 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the Testimony, to be kept - The Testimony refers to the Ark of the Covenant; (also called the ark of the testimony) so the pot of manna would be placed before Yahweh in the tabernacle. This later instruction came after the tabernacle had been built (Ex 25:10–22). Notice in v33 the phrase place it before the LORD is equivalent here to placed it before the Testimony

Currid notes that "This is the third time the Hebrew infinitive ‘to keep’ appears, and it occurs in three verses in a row. This is for emphasis, in order to accentuate the preservation of the manna as a teaching tool for Israel’s posterity."

Exodus 16:35   The sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.

  • forty years - Nu 33:38 De 8:2,3 Ne 9:15,20,21 Ps 78:24,25 Joh 6:30-58 
  • until they came to - Jos 5:12 
  • the borders - Nu 33:48-50 De 1:8 34:1-4 
  • Exodus 16 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

The sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land - This statement is in the past tense and would indicate that the chapter was written after the 40 years in the wilderness. 

They ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan - Joshua documents the cessation of manna. He also documents the generation born in the wilderness as undergoing circumcision which had not been practiced for 40 years. And as the result of failure to practice circumcision, Israel did not celebrate the Passover for 40 years! 

Joshua 5:4-12 This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt. 5 For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised. 6 For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the LORD, to whom the LORD had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7 Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way.  8 Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach (MEANS TO EXPRESS CRITICISM OF ANOTHER) of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.  10 While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. 11 On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12 The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year. 

Rod Mattoon - Israel was a covenant nation (Romans 9:4, 5). The sign of God's covenant was the cutting of the flesh. For forty years, no one was circumcised in the wilderness. They were living in disobedience and disbelief. The men of war twenty years old and older are now all dead. The male children born in the wilderness needed to be circumcised to fulfill the covenant. Now that they are in the Promised Land, the covenant needed to be renewed. Gilgal was a place of remembrance, resurrection, and now a place of renunciation. A key lesson here is there must be a dying to self, to the flesh, if we are to enjoy God's blessings and be victorious in our Christian life. We must be obedient to God's Word. Disabling these men by circumcision in enemy territory was a great test of faith. In their weakness they were made strong (Hebrews 6:12). They were totally at God's mercy and entrusted into His care. God's Word may seem illogical and dangerous, but remember that obedience brings His blessing and protection. It may seem illogical to love your enemies, tithe, honor your parents especially when they may be harsh or wicked, submit to an unloving husband, or serve a tough employer, but God's way does work and brings blessing. God was teaching His people to wait on Him and prepare themselves before battle.
What was the reproach of Egypt? Was it the slavery of Egypt? No, God sent them to Egypt. They were not enslaved for disobedience. The reproach was the ridicule of the enemies of Israel when they failed to trust God at Kadesh-Barnea and enter the Promised Land. Egypt accused God of delivering them from Egypt to kill them in the mountains and desert. They said that God could not get them to the Promised Land. Now they are in the land and the reproach of God's enemies is rolled away. In the life of the believer, the reproach of sin was rolled away when we trusted Christ as our Savior. We went from eternal death to eternal life; from being condemned to being forgiven, cleansed, and restored in our fellowship with the Lord. When we are totally surrendered to the Lord, the reproach of the world will be rolled away in victory. Our joy and victory in Christ will take the sting out of the scoffing and mockery of a wicked world. Our old life will be defeated in our commitment to Christ. Our sin is under His cleansing blood. We are new creatures in Christ with a new start, a new purpose in life, and new destination for eternity.

The Passover had been observed only two times. In Egypt when the Death Angel passed over and at Mt. Sinai (Nu 9:5). This would be the third time, picturing the resurrection of God's people and their rededication. During the wilderness wandering, the Passover was not observed because no uncircumcised person could partake in the feast (Ex. 12:48). The nation had forfeited their rights to the Passover by their disobedience and sin. God is not going to give the enjoyment of His fellowship and blessings to people who are content to live in disobedience. It is impossible to worship the Lord if there is rebellion and disobedience in the worshiper's heart.

Thomas Constable on reproach of Egypt - The reproach of Egypt (Josh 5:9) was the charge that originated with the Egyptians that Yahweh had led the Israelites out of Egypt only to destroy them in the wilderness (cf. Ex 32:12; Nu 14:13–16; Dt. 9:28). Now that He had brought them into the land He had promised them, He had negated or “rolled away” this criticism. Gilgal means “rolling” as well as “circle.” The Israelites seem to have regarded the rolling away of the foreskins in the circumcision operation as having a double symbolic meaning. It represented God’s removal of their reproach as well as their renunciation of the flesh (cf. Gen. 17).

Robert Hawker - They did eat manna until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.—Exodus 16:35.

How graciously God the Holy Ghost taught Israel, by type and shadow, concerning good things to come! It must be our duty, and it will prove our happiness, to read in every event, as far as the Holy Ghost teacheth, our New Testament blessings dressed up in the Old Testament figures. The feeding of the Church in the wilderness with manna forty years, was a standing miracle, and, as such, became a most suitable type of Jesus. My soul! look at it, this evening, in this point of view, and behold what the Spirit holds forth in it, concerning the Lord Jesus. The continuance of this supply from heaven became a beautiful resemblance of the state of believers in all ages. The rebellion of Israel occasioned not any suspension of the mercy; for though Israel murmured and rebelled, the manna was sent the same, “new and pure every morning.” Sweet thought to the poor timid believer! Though we fail in our duty, Jesus will not diminish in his love: and though we neglect him, yet will he not forget us. Moreover, morning by morning, the blessing came; not a day, not an hour omitted. Jesus is all this, and more: “For it shall come to pass, that before my people call” (saith Jehovah) “I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24.) There is another precious thought suggested in the view of the type, and the thing signified: all the people partook of the rich mercy. There was enough manna for every one; for each, and for all. Such is Jesus to his people. Every state and every circumstance he is able to supply, and he doth and will supply; and, therefore, between the old Church of the Old Testament believers, and the new Church of New Testament saints, there is a great analogy and agreement. Christ is the sum and substance of all and every one of the people. One thing more: As Israel had no other sustenance until they came to the borders of Canaan, so the people of God now have no other, yea, they desire no other, until they come to the Canaan above. In Jesus there is a fulness of grace, and life, and glory. Hail, thou heavenly bread! thou word of God! Be thou my portion, the bread of life, until I am brought down to the waters of Jordan. Help me, Lord, by faith, to feed on thee and on thy great salvation; and “may my meditation of thee be sweet!”

Exodus 16:36 36  (Now an omer is a tenth of an ephah.)'"

(Now an omer is a tenth of an ephah.)'"