Exodus 15:22-18:27 Common English Bible (CEB)
Turning bitter water sweet
22 Then Moses had Israel leave the Reed Sea[a] and go out into the Shur desert. They traveled for three days in the desert and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they couldn’t drink Marah’s water because it was bitter. That’s why it was called Marah.[b] 24 The people complained against Moses, “What will we drink?” 25 Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord pointed out a tree to him. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.
The Lord made a regulation and a ruling there, and there he tested them. 26 The Lord said, “If you are careful to obey the Lord your God, do what God thinks is right, pay attention to his commandments, and keep all of his regulations, then I won’t bring on you any of the diseases that I brought on the Egyptians. I am the Lord who heals you.”
27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees. They camped there by the water.
Wilderness food: manna and quail
16 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Sin desert, which is located between Elim and Sinai. They set out on the fifteenth day of the second month[c] after they had left the land of Egypt. 2 The whole Israelite community complained against Moses and Aaron in the desert. 3 The Israelites said to them, “Oh, how we wish that the Lord had just put us to death while we were still in the land of Egypt. There we could sit by the pots cooking meat and eat our fill of bread. Instead, you’ve brought us out into this desert to starve this whole assembly to death.”
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I’m going to make bread rain down from the sky for you. The people will go out each day and gather just enough for that day. In this way, I’ll test them to see whether or not they follow my Instruction. 5 On the sixth day, when they measure out what they have collected, it will be twice as much as they collected on other days.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “This evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 7 And in the morning you will see the Lord’s glorious presence, because your complaints against the Lord have been heard. Who are we? Why blame us?” 8 Moses continued, “The Lord will give you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning because the Lord heard the complaints you made against him. Who are we? Your complaints aren’t against us but against the Lord.”
9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole Israelite community, ‘Come near to the Lord, because he’s heard your complaints.’” 10 As Aaron spoke to the whole Israelite community, they turned to look toward the desert, and just then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared in the cloud.
11 The Lord spoke to Moses, 12 “I’ve heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat. And in the morning you will have your fill of bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”
13 In the evening a flock of quail flew down and covered the camp. And in the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the desert surface were thin flakes, as thin as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What[d] is it?” They didn’t know what it was.
Moses said to them, “This is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Collect as much of it as each of you can eat, one omer[e] per person. You may collect for the number of people in your household.’” 17 The Israelites did as Moses said, some collecting more, some less. 18 But when they measured it out by the omer, the ones who had collected more had nothing left over, and the ones who had collected less had no shortage. Everyone collected just as much as they could eat. 19 Moses said to them, “Don’t keep any of it until morning.” 20 But they didn’t listen to Moses. Some kept part of it until morning, but it became infested with worms and stank. Moses got angry with them. 21 Every morning they gathered it, as much as each person could eat. But when the sun grew hot, it melted away.
22 On the sixth day the people collected twice as much food as usual, two omers per person. All the chiefs of the community came and told Moses. 23 He said to them, “This is what the Lord has said, ‘Tomorrow is a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. But you can set aside and keep all the leftovers until the next morning.’” 24 So they set the leftovers aside until morning, as Moses had commanded. They didn’t stink or become infested with worms. 25 The next day Moses said, “Eat it today, because today is a Sabbath to the Lord. Today you won’t find it out in the field. 26 Six days you will gather it. But on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be nothing to gather.”
27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather bread, but they found nothing. 28 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to obey my commandments and instructions? 29 Look! The Lord has given you the Sabbath. Therefore, on the sixth day he gives you enough food for two days. Each of you should stay where you are and not leave your place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
31 The Israelite people called it manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and tasted like honey wafers. 32 Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept safe for future generations so that they can see the food that I used to feed you in the desert when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”
33 Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put one full omer of manna in it. Then set it in the Lord’s presence, where it should be kept safe for future generations.” 34 Aaron did as the Lord commanded Moses, and he put it in front of the covenant document for safekeeping. 35 The Israelites ate manna for forty years, until they came to a livable land. They ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. (36 An omer[f] is one-tenth of an ephah.)
Water from a rock
17 The whole Israelite community broke camp and set out from the Sin desert to continue their journey, as the Lord commanded. They set up their camp at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people argued with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses said to them, “Why are you arguing with me? Why are you testing the Lord?”
3 But the people were very thirsty for water there, and they complained to Moses, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?”
4 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with this people? They are getting ready to stone me.”
5 The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of Israel’s elders with you. Take in your hand the shepherd’s rod that you used to strike the Nile River, and go. 6 I’ll be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Hit the rock. Water will come out of it, and the people will be able to drink.” Moses did so while Israel’s elders watched. 7 He called the place Massah[g] and Meribah,[h] because the Israelites argued with and tested the Lord, asking, “Is the Lord really with us or not?”
Israel defeats Amalek
8 Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some men for us and go fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I’ll stand on top of the hill with the shepherd’s rod of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses told him. He fought with Amalek while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel would start winning the battle. Whenever Moses lowered his hand, Amalek would start winning. 12 But Moses’ hands grew tired. So they took a stone and put it under Moses so he could sit down on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side of him so that his hands remained steady until sunset. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his army with the sword.
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a reminder on a scroll and read it to Joshua: I will completely wipe out the memory of Amalek under the sky.”
15 Moses built an altar there and called it, “The Lord is my banner.” 16 He said, “The power of the Lord’s banner![i] The Lord is at war with Amalek in every generation.”
Sharing the burden of leadership
18 Jethro, Midian’s priest and Moses’ father-in-law, heard about everything that God had done for Moses and for God’s people Israel, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2 Moses’ father-in-law Jethro took with him Zipporah, Moses’ wife whom he had sent away, 3 along with her two sons. One was named Gershom because he said, “I have been an immigrant[j] living in a foreign land.” 4 The other was named Eliezer[k] because he said, “The God of my ancestors was my helper who rescued me from Pharaoh’s sword.” 5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought Moses’ sons and wife back to him in the desert where he had set up camp at God’s mountain. 6 He sent word to Moses: “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you along with your wife and her two sons.” 7 Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and he bowed down and kissed him. They asked each other how they were doing, and then they went into the tent. 8 Moses then told his father-in-law everything that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians on Israel’s behalf, all the difficulty they had on their journey, and how the Lord had rescued them. 9 Jethro was glad about all the good things that the Lord had done for Israel in saving them from the Egyptians’ power.
10 Jethro said, “Bless the Lord who rescued you from the Egyptians’ power and from Pharaoh’s power, who rescued the people from Egypt’s oppressive power. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods, because of what happened when the Egyptians plotted against them.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought an entirely burned offering and sacrifices to God. Aaron came with all of Israel’s elders to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in God’s presence.
13 The next day Moses sat as a judge for the people, while the people stood around Moses from morning until evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What’s this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people are standing around you from morning until evening?”
15 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When a conflict arises between them, they come to me and I judge between the two of them. I also teach them God’s regulations and instructions.”
17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing isn’t good. 18 You will end up totally wearing yourself out, both you and these people who are with you. The work is too difficult for you. You can’t do it alone. 19 Now listen to me and let me give you some advice. And may God be with you! Your role should be to represent the people before God. You should bring their disputes before God yourself. 20 Explain the regulations and instructions to them. Let them know the way they are supposed to go and the things they are supposed to do. 21 But you should also look among all the people for capable persons who respect God. They should be trustworthy and not corrupt. Set these persons over the people as officers of groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 22 Let them sit as judges for the people at all times. They should bring every major dispute to you, but they should decide all of the minor cases themselves. This will be much easier for you, and they will share your load. 23 If you do this and God directs you, then you will be able to endure. And all these people will be able to go back to their homes much happier.”
24 Moses listened to his father-in-law’s suggestions and did everything that he had said. 25 Moses chose capable persons from all Israel and set them as leaders over the people, as officers over groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 26 They acted as judges for the people at all times. They would refer the hard cases to Moses, but all of the minor cases they decided themselves. 27 Then Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law, and Jethro went back to his own country.