Israel Complains, So God Sends Food
16 Then all the Israelites left Elim. They reached the western Sinai desert,[a] between Elim and Mount Sinai, on the 15th day of the second month[b] after leaving Egypt. 2 Then the whole community of Israelites began complaining again. They complained to Moses and Aaron in the desert. 3 They said, “It would have been better if the Lord had just killed us in the land of Egypt. At least there we had plenty to eat. We had all the food we needed. But now you have brought us out here into this desert to make us all die from hunger.”
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will cause food to fall from the sky. This food will be for you to eat. Every day the people should go out and gather the food they need that day. I will do this to see if they will do what I tell them. 5 Every day the people will gather only enough food for one day. But on Friday, when the people prepare their food, they will see that they have enough food for two days.”[c]
6 So Moses and Aaron said to the Israelites, “Tonight you will see the power of the Lord. You will know that he is the one who brought you out of Egypt. 7 You have been complaining about the Lord, and he heard you. So tomorrow morning you will see the Glory of the Lord. You have been complaining and complaining about us. Maybe now we can have a little rest.”[d]
8 Then Moses said, “In the evening the Lord will give you meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. The Lord will do this because he has heard your complaining, which was against him, not us. What can we do? We do only what he tells us to do, so your complaints are really against the Lord.”
9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole community of Israelites to come together before the Lord, because he has heard their complaints.”
10 So Aaron spoke to all the Israelites. While he was talking, the people turned and looked into the desert. And they saw the Glory of the Lord appear in a cloud.
11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. So tell them, ‘Tonight you will eat meat. And in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know you can trust the Lord, your God.’”
13 That evening, flocks of quail came and filled the camp, and in the morning dew lay on the ground all around it. 14 After the dew was gone, something like thin flakes of frost was on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they asked each other, “What is that?” because they did not know what it was. So Moses told them, “This is the food the Lord is giving you to eat. 16 The Lord says, ‘Each of you should gather what you need, a basket[e] of manna for everyone in your family.’”
17 So that is what the Israelites did. Some people gathered a large amount, some people gathered a little. 18 But when they measured what they had gathered, there was no shortage and there was none left over. Everyone gathered just what they needed.
19 Moses told them, “Don’t save that food to eat the next day.” 20 But some of the people did not obey Moses. They saved their food for the next day. But worms got into the food and it began to stink. Moses was angry with the people who did this.
21 Every morning the people gathered as much food as they could eat, but by noon[f] the food melted and was gone.
22 On Friday the people gathered twice as much food—two baskets[g] for every person. So all the leaders of the people came and told this to Moses.
23 Moses told them, “This is what the Lord said would happen. It happened because tomorrow is the Sabbath, the special day of rest to honor the Lord. You can cook all the food you need to cook for today, but save the rest of this food for tomorrow morning.”
24 So the people saved the rest of the food for the next day, as Moses had commanded, and none of the food spoiled or had worms in it.
25 On Saturday, Moses told the people, “Today is the Sabbath, the special day of rest to honor the Lord. So none of you should be out in the fields. Eat the food you gathered yesterday. 26 You should gather the food for six days. But the seventh day of the week is a day of rest—so there will not be any of the special food on the ground.”
27 On Saturday, some of the people went out to gather some of the food, but they could not find any. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you people refuse to obey my commands and teachings? 29 Look, the Lord has made the Sabbath a day of rest for you. So on Friday he will give you enough food for two days. Then, on the Sabbath, each of you should sit down and relax. Stay where you are.” 30 So the people rested on the Sabbath.
31 The people called the special food “manna.[h]” It was like small white coriander seeds and tasted like thin cakes made with honey. 32 Moses told the people what the Lord said: “Save a basket of this food for your descendants. Then they can see the food that I gave to you in the desert when I took you out of Egypt.”
33 So Moses told Aaron, “Take a jar and fill it with a full basket of manna. Save this manna to put before the Lord. Save it for our descendants.” 34 (Aaron did what the Lord had commanded Moses. Aaron put the jar of manna in front of the Box of the Agreement.) 35 The people ate the manna for 40 years, until they came to the land of rest, that is, until they came to the edge of the land of Canaan. 36 (The measure they used for the manna was an omer. An omer was about 8 cups.[i])
- Exodus 16:1 western Sinai desert Literally, “desert of Sin.”
- Exodus 16:1 15th day of the second month That is, the 15th of Iyyar. The Israelites had been traveling for a month.
- Exodus 16:5 Friday, … two days This happened so that the people would not have to work on the Sabbath (Saturday), the day of rest.
- Exodus 16:7 You … rest Or “Who are we that you should be complaining about us?”
- Exodus 16:16 basket Literally, “1 omer” (2.2 l). Also in verses 32, 33.
- Exodus 16:21 noon Literally, “the heat of the day.”
- Exodus 16:22 two baskets Literally, “2 omers” (4.4 l).
- Exodus 16:31 manna This name is like the Hebrew phrase in verse 15 meaning “What is that?”
- Exodus 16:36 about 8 cups Literally, “1/10 of an ephah” (2.2 l).