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Exodus 16:4-15

Context

16:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain 1  bread from heaven for you, and the people will go out 2  and gather the amount for each day, so that I may test them. 3  Will they will walk in my law 4  or not? 16:5 On the sixth day 5  they will prepare what they bring in, and it will be twice as much as they gather every other day.” 6 

16:6 Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening 7  you will know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt, 16:7 and in the morning you will see 8  the glory of the Lord, because he has heard 9  your murmurings against the Lord. As for us, what are we, 10  that you should murmur against us?”

16:8 Moses said, “You will know this 11  when the Lord gives you 12  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? 13  Your murmurings are not against us, 14  but against the Lord.”

16:9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole community 15  of the Israelites, ‘Come 16  before the Lord, because he has heard your murmurings.’”

16:10 As Aaron spoke 17  to the whole community of the Israelites and they looked toward the desert, there the glory of the Lord 18  appeared 19  in the cloud, 16:11 and the Lord spoke to Moses: 16:12 “I have heard the murmurings of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘During the evening 20  you will eat meat, 21  and in the morning you will be satisfied 22  with bread, so that you may know 23  that I am the Lord your God.’” 24 

16:13 In the evening the quail 25  came up and covered the camp, and in the morning a layer of dew was all around the camp. 16:14 When 26  the layer of dew had evaporated, 27  there on the surface of the desert was a thin flaky substance, 28  thin like frost on the earth. 16:15 When 29  the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, 30  “What is it?” because they did not know what it was. 31  Moses said to them, “It is the bread 32  that the Lord has given you for food. 33 

Exodus 16:35

Context

16:35 Now the Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was inhabited; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.

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

2 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.”

3 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.

4 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.

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

6 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.

7 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.

8 tn Heb “morning, and you will see.”

9 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.

10 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.

11 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.”

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

13 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.

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

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

16 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.

17 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.”

18 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.

19 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.”

20 tn Heb “during the evenings”; see Exod 12:6.

21 sn One of the major interpretive difficulties is the comparison between Exod 16 and Num 11. In Numbers we find that the giving of the manna was about 24 months after the Exod 16 time (assuming there was a distinct time for this chapter), that it was after the erection of the tabernacle, that Taberah (the Burning) preceded it (not in Exod 16), that the people were tired of the manna (not that there was no bread to eat) and so God would send the quail, and that there was a severe tragedy over it. In Exod 16 both the manna and the quail are given on the same day, with no mention of quail on the following days. Contemporary scholarship generally assigns the accounts to two different sources because complete reconciliation seems impossible. Even if we argue that Exodus has a thematic arrangement and “telescopes” some things to make a point, there will still be difficulties in harmonization. Two considerations must be kept in mind: 1) First, they could be separate events entirely. If this is true, then they should be treated separately as valid accounts of things that appeared or occurred during the period of the wanderings. Similar things need not be the same thing. 2) Secondly, strict chronological order is not always maintained in the Bible narratives, especially if it is a didactic section. Perhaps Exod 16 describes the initiation of the giving of manna as God’s provision of bread, and therefore placed in the prologue of the covenant, and Num 11 is an account of a mood which developed over a period of time in response to the manna. Num 11 would then be looking back from a different perspective.

22 tn The verb means “to be sated, satisfied”; in this context it indicates that they would have sufficient bread to eat – they would be full.

23 tn The form is a Qal perfect with the vav (ו) consecutive; it is in sequence with the imperfect tenses before it, and so this is equal to an imperfect nuance. But, from the meanings of the words, it is clear that this will be the outcome of their eating the food, a divinely intended outcome.

24 sn This verse supports the view taken in chap. 6 concerning the verb “to know.” Surely the Israelites by now knew that Yahweh was their God. Yes, they did. But they had not experienced what that meant; they had not received the fulfillment of the promises.

25 sn These are migratory birds, said to come up in the spring from Arabia flying north and west, and in the fall returning. They fly with the wind, and so generally alight in the evening, covering the ground. If this is part of the explanation, the divine provision would have had to alter their flight paths to bring them to the Israelites, and bring them in vast numbers.

26 tn Heb “and [the dew…] went up.”

27 tn The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive is here subordinated as a temporal clause to the main clause; since that clause calls special attention to what was there after the dew evaporated.

28 sn Translations usually refer to the manna as “bread.” In fact it appears to be more like grain, because it could be ground in hand-mills and made into cakes. The word involved says it is thin, flakelike (if an Arabic etymological connection is correct). What is known about it from the Bible in Exodus is that it was a very small flakelike substance, it would melt when the sun got hot, if left over it bred worms and became foul, it could be ground, baked, and boiled, it was abundant enough for the Israelites to gather an omer a day per person, and they gathered it day by day throughout the wilderness sojourn. Num 11 says it was like coriander seed with the appearance of bdellium, it tasted like fresh oil, and it fell with the dew. Deut 8:3 says it was unknown to Israel or her ancestors; Psalm 78:24 parallels it with grain. Some scholars compare ancient references to honeydew that came from the heavens. F. S. Bodenheimer (“The Manna of Sinai,” BA 10 [1947]: 2) says that it was a sudden surprise for the nomadic Israelites because it provided what they desired – sweetness. He says that it was a product that came from two insects, making the manna a honeydew excretion from plant lice and scale insects. The excretion hardens and drops to the ground as a sticky solid. He notes that some cicadas are called man in Arabic. This view accounts for some of the things in these passages: the right place, the right time, the right description, and a similar taste. But there are major difficulties: Exodus requires a far greater amount, it could breed worms, it could melt away, it could be baked into bread, it could decay and stink. The suggestion is in no way convincing. Bodenheimer argues that “worms” could mean “ants” that carried them away, but that is contrived – the text could have said ants. The fact that the Bible calls it “bread” creates no problem. לֶחֶם (lekhem) is used in a wide range of meanings from bread to all kinds of food including goats (Judg 13:15-16) and honey (1 Sam 14:24-28). Scripture does not say that manna was the only thing that they ate for the duration. But they did eat it throughout the forty years. It simply must refer to some supernatural provision for them in their diet. Modern suggestions may invite comparison and analysis, but they do not satisfy or explain the text.

29 tn The preterite with vav consecutive is here subordinated to the next verb as a temporal clause. The main point of the verse is what they said.

30 tn Heb “a man to his brother.”

31 tn The text has: מָן הוּא כִּי לאֹ יָדְעוּ מַה־הוּא (man huki loyadÿu mah hu’). From this statement the name “manna” was given to the substance. מָן for “what” is not found in Hebrew, but appears in Syriac as a contraction of ma den, “what then?” In Aramaic and Arabic man is “what?” The word is used here apparently for the sake of etymology. B. S. Childs (Exodus [OTL], 274) follows the approach that any connections to words that actually meant “what?” are unnecessary, for it is a play on the name (whatever it may have been) and therefore related only by sound to the term being explained. This, however, presumes that a substance was known prior to this account – a point that Deuteronomy does not seem to allow. S. R. Driver says that it is not known how early the contraction came into use, but that this verse seems to reflect it (Exodus, 149). Probably one must simply accept that in the early Israelite period man meant “what?” There seems to be sufficient evidence to support this. See EA 286,5; UT 435; DNWSI 1:157.

32 sn B. Jacob (Exodus, 454-55) suggests that Moses was saying to them, “It is not manna. It is the food Yahweh has given you.” He comes to this conclusion based on the strange popular etymology from the interrogative word, noting that people do not call things “what?”

33 sn For other views see G. Vermès, “‘He Is the Bread’ Targum Neofiti Ex. 16:15,” SJLA 8 (1975): 139-46; and G. J. Cowling, “Targum Neofiti Ex. 16:15,” AJBA (1974-75): 93-105.



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