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Exodus 16:3-7

Context
16:3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died 1  by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by 2  the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full, 3  for you have brought us out into this desert to kill 4  this whole assembly with hunger!”

16:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain 5  bread from heaven for you, and the people will go out 6  and gather the amount for each day, so that I may test them. 7  Will they will walk in my law 8  or not? 16:5 On the sixth day 9  they will prepare what they bring in, and it will be twice as much as they gather every other day.” 10 

16:6 Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening 11  you will know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt, 16:7 and in the morning you will see 12  the glory of the Lord, because he has heard 13  your murmurings against the Lord. As for us, what are we, 14  that you should murmur against us?”

1 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.

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

3 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.

4 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.

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

6 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.”

7 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.

8 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.

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

10 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.

11 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.

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

13 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.

14 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.



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