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Exodus 16:1-10

Context
The Provision of Manna

16:1 1 When 2  they journeyed from Elim, the entire company 3  of Israelites came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their exodus 4  from the land of Egypt. 16:2 The entire company 5  of Israelites murmured against Moses and Aaron in the desert. 16:3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died 6  by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by 7  the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full, 8  for you have brought us out into this desert to kill 9  this whole assembly with hunger!”

16:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain 10  bread from heaven for you, and the people will go out 11  and gather the amount for each day, so that I may test them. 12  Will they will walk in my law 13  or not? 16:5 On the sixth day 14  they will prepare what they bring in, and it will be twice as much as they gather every other day.” 15 

16:6 Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening 16  you will know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt, 16:7 and in the morning you will see 17  the glory of the Lord, because he has heard 18  your murmurings against the Lord. As for us, what are we, 19  that you should murmur against us?”

16:8 Moses said, “You will know this 20  when the Lord gives you 21  meat to eat in the evening and bread in the morning to satisfy you, because the Lord has heard your murmurings that you are murmuring against him. As for us, what are we? 22  Your murmurings are not against us, 23  but against the Lord.”

16:9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole community 24  of the Israelites, ‘Come 25  before the Lord, because he has heard your murmurings.’”

16:10 As Aaron spoke 26  to the whole community of the Israelites and they looked toward the desert, there the glory of the Lord 27  appeared 28  in the cloud,

1 sn Exod 16 plays an important part in the development of the book’s theme. It is part of the wider section that is the prologue leading up to the covenant at Sinai, a part of which was the obligation of obedience and loyalty (P. W. Ferris, Jr., “The Manna Narrative of Exodus 16:1-10,” JETS 18 [1975]: 191-99). The record of the wanderings in the wilderness is selective and not exhaustive. It may have been arranged somewhat topically for instructional reasons. U. Cassuto describes this section of the book as a didactic anthology arranged according to association of both context and language (Exodus, 187). Its themes are: lack of vital necessities, murmuring, proving, and providing. All the wilderness stories reiterate the same motifs. So, later, when Israel arrived in Canaan, they would look back and be reminded that it was Yahweh who brought them all the way, in spite of their rebellions. Because he is their Savior and their Provider, he will demand loyalty from them. In the Manna Narrative there is murmuring over the lack of bread (1-3), the disputation with Moses (4-8), the appearance of the glory and the promise of bread (9-12), the provision (13-22), the instructions for the Sabbath (23-30), and the memorial manna (31-36).

2 tn The sentence begins with a preterite and vav (ו) consecutive, which can be subordinated to the next clause with the preterite and vav consecutive. Here it has been treated as a temporal clause.

3 tn The word is often rendered “congregation” (so KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV), but the modern perception of a congregation is not exactly what is in mind in the desert. Another possible rendering is “community” (NAB, NIV, NCV, TEV) or “assembly.” The Hebrew word is used of both good and bad groups (Judg 14:8; Ps 1:5; 106:17-18).

4 tn The form in the text is לְצֵאתָם (lÿtsetam, “after their going out”). It clearly refers to their deliverance from Egypt, and so it may be vividly translated.

5 tn Or “community” or “assembly.”

6 tn The text reads: מִי־יִתֵּן מוּתֵנוּ (mi-yitten mutenu, “who will give our dying”) meaning “If only we had died.” מוּתֵנוּ is the Qal infinitive construct with the suffix. This is one way that Hebrew expresses the optative with an infinitive construct. See R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 91-92, §547.

7 tn The form is a Qal infinitive construct used in a temporal clause, and the verb “when we ate” has the same structure.

8 sn 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 (Deut 3:7; for the whole sermon on this passage, see 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.

9 tn לְהָמִית (lÿhamit) is the Hiphil infinitive construct showing purpose. The people do not trust the intentions or the plan of their leaders and charge Moses with bringing everyone out to kill them.

10 tn The particle הִנְנִי (hinni) before the active participle indicates the imminent future action: “I am about to rain.”

11 tn This verb and the next are the Qal perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutives; they follow the sequence of the participle, and so are future in orientation. The force here is instruction – “they will go out” or “they are to go out.”

12 tn The verb in the purpose/result clause is the Piel imperfect of נָסָה (nasah), אֲנַסֶּנוּ (’anassenu) – “in order that I may prove them [him].” The giving of the manna will be a test of their obedience to the detailed instructions of God as well as being a test of their faith in him (if they believe him they will not gather too much). In chap. 17 the people will test God, showing that they do not trust him.

13 sn The word “law” here properly means “direction” at this point (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 146), but their obedience here would indicate also whether or not they would be willing to obey when the Law was given at Sinai.

14 tn Heb “and it will be on the sixth day.”

15 sn 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, suggesting to some scholars that this chapter is out of chronological order, placed here for a purpose. Some argue that the manna episode comes after the revelation at Sinai. But it is not necessary to take such a view. God had established the Sabbath in the creation, and if Moses has been expounding the Genesis traditions in his teachings then they would have known about that.

16 tn The text simply has “evening, and you will know.” Gesenius notes that the perfect tense with the vav consecutive occurs as the apodosis to temporal clauses or their equivalents. Here the first word implies the idea “[when it becomes] evening” or simply “[in the] evening” (GKC 337-38 §112.oo).

sn 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.

17 tn Heb “morning, and you will see.”

18 tn The form is a Qal infinitive construct with a preposition and a suffix. It forms an adverbial clause, usually of time, but here a causal clause.

19 tn The words “as for us” attempt to convey the force of the Hebrew word order, which puts emphasis on the pronoun: “and we – what?” The implied answer to the question is that Moses and Aaron are nothing, merely the messengers. The next verse repeats the question to further press the seriousness of what the Israelites are doing.

20 tn “You will know this” has been added to make the line smooth. Because of the abruptness of the lines in the verse, and the repetition with v. 7, B. S. Childs (Exodus [OTL], 273) thinks that v. 8 is merely a repetition by scribal error – even though the versions render it as the MT has it. But B. Jacob (Exodus, 447) suggests that the contrast with vv. 6 and 7 is important for another reason – there Moses and Aaron speak, and it is smooth and effective, but here only Moses speaks, and it is labored and clumsy. “We should realize that Moses had properly claimed to be no public speaker.”

21 tn Here again is an infinitive construct with the preposition forming a temporal clause.

22 tn The words “as for us” attempt to convey the force of the Hebrew word order, which puts emphasis on the pronoun: “and we – what?” The implied answer to the question is that Moses and Aaron are nothing, merely the messengers.

23 tn The word order is “not against us [are] your murmurings.”

24 tn Or “congregation” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV); the same word occurs in v. 10.

25 tn The verb means “approach, draw near.” It is used in the Torah of drawing near for religious purposes. It is possible that some sacrifice was involved here, but no mention is made of that.

26 tn Heb “and it was as Aaron spoke.” The construction uses the temporal indicator and then the Piel infinitive construct followed by the subjective genitive “Aaron.”

27 sn 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” (Exodus, 147-48; see also Ezek 1:28; 3:12, 23; 8:4; 9:3, et al.). A Hebrew word often translated “behold” or “lo” introduces the surprising sight.

28 tn The verb is the Niphal perfect of the verb “to see” – “it was seen.” But the standard way of translating this form is from the perspective of Yahweh as subject – “he appeared.”



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