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The Lord Provides Manna

16 They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of Israel came to the Wilderness of [a]Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they left the land of Egypt. The whole congregation of the Israelites [grew discontented and] murmured and rebelled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the Israelites said to them, “[b]Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and ate bread until we were full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this entire assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will cause bread to rain from heaven for you; the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, so that I may test them [to determine] whether or not they will walk [obediently] in My instruction (law). And it shall be that on the sixth day, they shall prepare to bring in twice as much as they gather daily [so that they will not need to gather on the seventh day].” So Moses and Aaron said to all Israel, “At evening you shall 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, for He hears your murmurings against the Lord. What are we, that you murmur and rebel against us?”

The Lord Provides Meat

Moses said, “This will happen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning [enough] bread to be fully satisfied, because the Lord has heard your murmurings against Him; for what are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to all the congregation of Israel, ‘Approach the Lord, because He has heard your murmurings.’” 10 So it happened that as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory and brilliance of the Lord appeared in the cloud! 11 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “I have heard the murmurings of the Israelites; 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.’”

13 So in the evening the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a blanket of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew evaporated, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine, flake-like thing, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “[c]What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.(A) 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let every man gather as much of it as he needs. Take an [d]omer for each person, according to the number of people each of you has in his tent.’” 17 The Israelites did so, and some gathered much [of it] and some [only a] little. 18 When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered a large amount had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered according to his need (family size). 19 Moses said, “Let none of it be left [overnight] until [the next] morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses, and some left a supply of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul and rotten; and Moses was angry with them. 21 So they gathered it every morning, each as much as he needed, because when the sun was hot it melted.

The Sabbath Observed

22 Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each person; and all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses. 23 He said to them, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord’; bake and boil what you will bake and boil [today], and all that remains left over put aside for yourselves to keep until morning.” 24 They put it aside until morning, as Moses told them, and it did not become foul nor was it wormy. 25 Then Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none [in the field].”

27 Now on the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you [people] refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions (laws)? 29 See, the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you the bread for two days on the sixth day. Let every man stay in his place; no man is to leave his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

31 The house of Israel called the bread manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and it tasted like flat pastry (wafers) made with honey. 32 Then Moses said, “This is the word which the Lord commands, ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” 33 So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a pot and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.” 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron [eventually] placed it in the presence of the [e]Testimony, to be kept.(B) 35 The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they reached an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36 (Now an [f]omer is the tenth of an [g]ephah.)

Water in the Rock

17 Then all the congregation of the children of Israel moved on from the Wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water so we may [have something to] drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you tempt the Lord and try His patience?” But the people were thirsty for water; and the people murmured against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up from Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord for help, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at [h]Horeb; there you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may [have something to] drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.(C) He named the place [where this miracle occurred] Massah (test) and [i]Meribah (contention) because of the quarreling of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the [patience of the] Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?”

Amalek Fought

Then [j]Amalek [and his people] came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to [k]Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek [and his people]. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses said, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and [l]Hur went up to the hilltop. 11 Now when Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and when he lowered his hand [due to fatigue], Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands were heavy and he grew tired. So they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side and one on the other side; so it was that his hands were steady until the sun set. 13 So Joshua overwhelmed and defeated [m]Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this in the book as a memorial and [n]recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly wipe out the memory of Amalek [and his people] from under heaven.”(D) 15 And Moses built an altar and named it [o]The Lord Is My Banner; 16 saying, “The Lord has sworn [an oath]; the Lord will have war against [the people of] Amalek from generation to generation.”

Jethro, Moses’ Father-in-law

18 Now Jethro (Reuel), the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people, and that the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Moses’ wife Zipporah, after he had sent her away [from Egypt], along with her two sons, of whom one was named Gershom (stranger), for Moses said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.” The other [son] was named Eliezer (my God is help), for Moses said, “The God of my father was my help, and He rescued me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

Then Jethro, his father-in-law, came with Moses’ sons and his wife to [join] Moses in the wilderness where he was camped, at the mountain of God [that is, Mt. Sinai in Horeb]. He sent a message to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons [who are] with her.” So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and he bowed down [in respect] and kissed him. They asked each other about their well-being and went into the tent. Moses told his father-in-law about all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, and about all the hardship that had happened during the journey, and how the Lord had rescued them. Jethro rejoiced over all the good things the Lord had done to Israel, in that He had rescued them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of Pharaoh, and who has rescued the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is [p]greater than all gods; indeed, it was proven when they acted insolently toward Israel [and the Lord showed Himself infinitely superior to all their gods].” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took a burnt offering and [other] sacrifices [to offer] to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law before God.

13 Now the next day Moses sat to judge [the disputes] the people [had with one another], and the people stood around Moses from dawn to dusk. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw everything that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why are you sitting alone [as a judge] with all the people standing around you from dawn to dusk?” 15 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to ask [about the will] of God. 16 When they have a dispute they come to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor and I make known the statutes of God and His laws.”

Jethro Counsels Moses

17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good. 18 You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you [to bear]; you cannot do it alone. 19 Now listen to [q]me; [r]I will advise you, and may God be with you [to confirm my advice]. You shall represent the people before God. You shall bring their disputes and causes to Him. 20 You shall teach them the decrees and laws. You shall show them the way they are to live and the work they are to do. 21 Furthermore, you shall select from all the people competent men who [reverently] fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; you shall place these over the people as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. 22 They shall judge the people at all times; have them bring every major dispute to you, but let them judge every minor dispute themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you will do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure [the responsibility], and all these people will also go [back] to their tents in peace.”

24 So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything that he had said. 25 Moses chose able men from all Israel and made them heads over the people, leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens [from the highest to the lowest judicial levels]. 26 And they judged the people at all times; they would bring the difficult cases to Moses, but every minor dispute they judged and decided themselves. 27 Then Moses [s]said goodbye to his father-in-law, and Jethro went back to his own land (Midian).

Footnotes

  1. Exodus 16:1 Pronounced “seen” in Hebrew, it means “the place.” Although the words are spelled the same in English, “Sin” is not related in any way to “sin” (an offense against God).
  2. Exodus 16:3 To understand Israel’s rebellious behavior, it is important to grasp the contrast between life in Egypt and nomadic life in the wilderness. Despite the hardships of slavery survival was not an issue in Egypt, where they were guaranteed food and other necessities. But the desert wilderness was hostile and unforgiving, and survival was an art. Desert nomads needed to understand the wilderness in order to stay alive; they had to learn, among other things, how to protect themselves from the weather, where to find water and pasture, and how to find and prepare scarce food, or live primarily from what their livestock could provide them. So the Israelites viewed every new problem they faced as life-threatening. Instead of looking back and taking comfort from God’s earlier miracles, they doubted God’s ability and willingness to help them. Their fears and doubts subsequently came to be expressed as irrational anger toward Moses.
  3. Exodus 16:15 Heb man hu, cf v 31.
  4. Exodus 16:16 I.e. a little over two quarts.
  5. Exodus 16:34 The stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written.
  6. Exodus 16:36 I.e. a little over two quarts.
  7. Exodus 16:36 I.e. approx one bushel.
  8. Exodus 17:6 Horeb may refer to the mountain range of which Sinai is an individual mountain.
  9. Exodus 17:7 A similar incident occurred when the Israelites were in the Wilderness of Zin at Meribah-kadesh (Num 20:8-13; Deut 32:50-52). On that occasion Moses disobeyed God’s specific instruction and paid a terrible price for his action.
  10. Exodus 17:8 These were a group of nomads descended from Amalek, a grandson of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother.
  11. Exodus 17:9 Joshua, leader of the tribe of Ephraim, was one of the great warriors of the OT and was an attendant to and the successor of Moses.
  12. Exodus 17:10 According to Josephus, Hur was the husband of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron.
  13. Exodus 17:13 These nomadic people were the descendants of Esau.
  14. Exodus 17:14 Lit put in the ears of.
  15. Exodus 17:15 Heb YHWH (Yahweh)-Nissi.
  16. Exodus 18:11 Jethro is affirming that the Lord (Yahweh) proved Himself superior over the Egyptian deities in the plagues and the exodus.
  17. Exodus 18:19 Lit my voice.
  18. Exodus 18:19 Instead of speaking directly to Moses, God used Jethro. Jethro’s willingness to speak and Moses’ willingness to listen reflects beautifully on the spiritual and emotional maturity of both men and the value of such a relationship.
  19. Exodus 18:27 Lit sent off his father-in-law.

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