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Exodus 16:15-22

Context
16:15 When 1  the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, 2  “What is it?” because they did not know what it was. 3  Moses said to them, “It is the bread 4  that the Lord has given you for food. 5 

16:16 “This is what 6  the Lord has commanded: 7  ‘Each person is to gather 8  from it what he can eat, an omer 9  per person 10  according to the number 11  of your people; 12  each one will pick it up 13  for whoever lives 14  in his tent.’” 16:17 The Israelites did so, and they gathered – some more, some less. 16:18 When 15  they measured with an omer, the one who gathered much had nothing left over, and the one who gathered little lacked nothing; each one had gathered what he could eat.

16:19 Moses said to them, “No one 16  is to keep any of it 17  until morning.” 16:20 But they did not listen to Moses; some 18  kept part of it until morning, and it was full 19  of worms and began to stink, and Moses was angry with them. 16:21 So they gathered it each morning, 20  each person according to what he could eat, and when the sun got hot, it would melt. 21  16:22 And 22  on the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, two omers 23  per person; 24  and all the leaders 25  of the community 26  came and told 27  Moses.

1 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.

2 tn Heb “a man to his brother.”

3 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.

4 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?”

5 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.

6 tn Heb “the thing that.”

7 tn The perfect tense could be taken as a definite past with Moses now reporting it. In this case a very recent past. But in declaring the word from Yahweh it could be instantaneous, and receive a present tense translation – “here and now he commands you.”

8 tn The form is the plural imperative: “Gather [you] each man according to his eating.”

9 sn The omer is an amount mentioned only in this chapter, and its size is unknown, except by comparison with the ephah (v. 36). A number of recent English versions approximate the omer as “two quarts” (cf. NCV, CEV, NLT); TEV “two litres.”

10 tn Heb “for a head.”

11 tn The word “number” is an accusative that defines more precisely how much was to be gathered (see GKC 374 §118.h).

12 tn Traditionally “souls.”

13 tn Heb “will take.”

14 tn “lives” has been supplied.

15 tn The preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive is subordinated here as a temporal clause.

16 tn The address now is for “man” (אִישׁ, ’ish), “each one”; here the instruction seems to be focused on the individual heads of the households.

17 tn Or “some of it,” “from it.”

18 tn Heb “men”; this usage is designed to mean “some” (see GKC 447 §138.h, n. 1).

19 tn The verb וַיָּרֻם (vayyarum) is equivalent to a passive – “it was changed” – to which “worms” is added as an accusative of result (GKC 388-89 §121.d, n. 2).

20 tn Heb “morning by morning.” This is an example of the repetition of words to express the distributive sense; here the meaning is “every morning” (see GKC 388 §121.c).

21 tn The perfect tenses here with vav (ו) consecutives have the frequentative sense; they function in a protasis-apodosis relationship (GKC 494 §159.g).

22 tn Heb “and it happened/was.”

23 tn This construction is an exception to the normal rule for the numbers 2 through 10 taking the object numbered in the plural. Here it is “two of the omer” or “the double of the omer” (see GKC 433 §134.e).

24 tn Heb “for one.”

25 tn The word suggests “the ones lifted up” above others, and therefore the rulers or the chiefs of the people.

26 tn Or “congregation” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV).

27 sn The meaning here is probably that these leaders, the natural heads of the families in the clans, saw that people were gathering twice as much and they reported this to Moses, perhaps afraid it would stink again (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 197).



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