Exodus – Chapter 16

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 16


1 Having set out from Elim, the whole Israelite community came into the desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt.


Here in the desert the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.


The Israelites said to them, «Would that we had died at the LORD’S hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!»


2 Then the LORD said to Moses, «I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not.


On the sixth day, however, when they prepare what they bring in, let it be twice as much as they gather on the other days.»


So Moses and Aaron told all the Israelites, «At evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt;


and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, as he heeds your grumbling against him. But what are we that you should grumble against us?


When the LORD gives you flesh to eat in the evening,» continued Moses, «and in the morning your fill of bread, as he heeds the grumbling you utter against him, what then are we? Your grumbling is not against us, but against the LORD.»


Then Moses said to Aaron, «Tell the whole Israelite community: Present yourselves before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.»


When Aaron announced this to the whole Israelite community, they turned toward the desert, and lo, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud!


The LORD spoke to Moses and said,


«I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.»


In the evening quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning a dew lay all about the camp,


and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.


3 On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, «What is this?» for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, «This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.


«Now, this is what the LORD has commanded. So gather it that everyone has enough to eat, an omer for each person, as many of you as there are, each man providing for those of his own tent.»


The Israelites did so. Some gathered a large and some a small amount.


4 But when they measured it out by the omer, he who had gathered a large amount did not have too much, and he who had gathered a small amount did not have too little. They so gathered that everyone had enough to eat.


Moses also told them, «Let no one keep any of it over until tomorrow morning.»


But they would not listen to him. When some kept a part of it over until the following morning, it became wormy and rotten. Therefore Moses was displeased with them.


Morning after morning they gathered it, till each had enough to eat; but when the sun grew hot, the manna melted away.


On the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, two omers for each person. When all the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses,


he told them, «That is what the LORD prescribed. Tomorrow is a day of complete rest, the sabbath, sacred to the LORD. You may either bake or boil the manna, as you please; but whatever is left put away and keep for the morrow.»


When they put it away for the morrow, as Moses commanded, it did not become rotten or wormy.


Moses then said, «Eat it today, for today is the sabbath of the LORD. On this day you will not find any of it on the ground.


On the other six days you can gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, none of it will be there.»


Still, on the seventh day some of the people went out to gather it, although they did not find any.


Then the LORD said to Moses, «How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and laws?


Take note! The LORD has given you the sabbath. That is why on the sixth day he gives you food for two days. On the seventh day everyone is to stay home and no one is to go out.»


After that the people rested on the seventh day.


5 The Israelites called this food manna. It was like coriander seed, but white, and it tasted like wafers made with honey.


Moses said, «This is what the LORD has commanded. Keep an omerful of manna for your descendants, that they may see what food I gave you to eat in the desert when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.»


6 Moses then told Aaron, «Take an urn and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD in safekeeping for your descendants.»


7 So Aaron placed it in front of the commandments for safekeeping, as the LORD had commanded Moses.


The Israelites ate this manna for forty years, until they came to settled land; they ate manna until they reached the borders of Canaan.


(An omer is one tenth of an ephah.)

1 [1] On the fifteenth day of the second month: just one full month after their departure from Egypt. Cf ⇒ Exodus 12:2, ⇒ 51; ⇒ Numbers 33:3, 4. They encamped in the desert of Sin on a Friday; the murmuring (⇒ Exodus 16:2, 3) occurred on the sabbath, the arrival of the quail (⇒ Exodus 16:13) the evening before Sunday, followed by six mornings (⇒ Exodus 16:14-27) of collecting manna before the next sabbath.
2 [4] Bread from heaven: as a gift from God, the manna is said to come down from the sky. Cf ⇒ Psalm 78:25; ⇒ Wisdom 16:20. Perhaps it was similar to a natural substance that is still found in small quantities on the Sinai peninsula, but here it is, at least in part, clearly miraculous. Our Lord referred to the manna as a type of the Blessed Eucharist. Cf ⇒ John 6:32, ⇒ 49-52.
3 [15] What is this: the original man hu is thus rendered by the ancient versions, which understood the phrase as a popular etymology of the Hebrew word man, «manna»; some render, «This is manna.»
4 [18] St. Paul cites this passage as an example of equitable sharing. Cf ⇒ 2 Cor 8:15.
5 [31] Coriander seed: small, round, aromatic seeds of bright brown color; the comparison, therefore, refers merely to the size and shape, not to the taste or color of the manna.
6 [33] Urn: according to the Greek translation, which is followed in ⇒ Hebrews 9:4, this was a golden vessel.
7 [34] The commandments: the two tablets of the ten commandments, which were kept in the ark. Cf ⇒ Exodus 25:16, ⇒ 21, ⇒ 22.