Exodus 16:4 MEANING

Exodus 16:4
(4) I will rain bread from heaven for you.--This first announcement at once suggests that the supply is to be supernatural. "Bread from heaven" was not simply "food out of the air" (Rosenmller), but a celestial, that is, a Divine supply of their daily needs.

A certain rate every day.--Heb., a day's meal each day--sufficient, that is, for the wants of himself and family for a day.

That I may prove them.--Human life is a probation. God proves and tries those most whom He takes to Himself for His "peculiar people," and the trial is often by means of positive precepts, which are especially

Calculated to test the presence or absence of a spirit of humble and unquestioning obedience. Our first parents were tested by a positive precept in Paradise; the family of Abraham were tested by a positive precept--circumcision on the eighth day; the Israelites were tested, both in the wilderness and afterwards throughout their career as a nation, by a number of positive precepts, whereof this concerning the manna was one. Christians are tested by positive precepts with respect to common worship, prayer, and sacraments--the object being in all cases to see whether men "will walk in God's law or no." Men are very apt to prefer their own inventions to the simple rule of following at once the letter and the spirit of God's commandments.

Verses 4-8. - THE PROMISE OF BREAD FROM HEAVEN. When men who are in real distress make complaint, even though the tone of their complaint be not such as it ought to be, God in his mercy is wont to have compassion upon them, to "hear their mummurings," etc., and grant them some relief. But the relief is seldom of the kind which they expect, or pray for. The Israelites wished for actual bread, made of wheaten or barley flour. God gave them, not such bread, but a substitute for it. And first, before giving it, be promised that it should be given. Thus expectation was aroused; faith was exercised; the supernatural character of the relief was indicated; the power and the goodness of God, were, both of them, shown forth. And with the promise was given a law. They were on each occasion to gather no more than would suffice for the day. Thus they would continually "live by faith," taking no thought for the morrow, but trusting all to God. Verse 4. - Bread from heaven. Compare Psalm 78:24; Nehemiah 9:15; John 6:31-51. The expression is of course not to be trader-stood literally. The substance was not actual bread, neither was it locally transferred from the distant region called "heaven" to the soil of the Sinaitic peninsula. But it was called "bread," because it was intended to serve instead of bread, as the main support of life during the sojourn of Israel in the wilderness; and it was said to be "from heaven," first, as descending on 'the ground out of the circumambient air; and secondly, as miraculously sent by him, whose seat is in heaven. The people shall gather a certain rate every day. Rather "a day's supply every day," such a quantity as shall seem to each man reasonably sufficient for himself and his family. That I may prove them. As in Paradise God coupled with his free gift of "every tree of the garden" the positive precept, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat," - that he might prove our first parents, whether they would obey him or not - so now he "proved" the obedience of the Israelites by a definite, positive command - they were not to gather on ordinary days more than was sufficient for the day. All life is intended as a probation.

16:1-12 The provisions of Israel, brought from Egypt, were spent by the middle of the second month, and they murmured. It is no new thing for the greatest kindness to be basely represented as the greatest injuries. They so far undervalue their deliverance, that they wished they had died in Egypt; and by the hand of the Lord, that is, by the plagues which cut off the Egyptians. We cannot suppose they had plenty in Egypt, nor could they fear dying for want in the wilderness, while they had flocks and herds: none talk more absurdly than murmurers. When we begin to fret, we ought to consider, that God hears all our murmurings. God promises a speedy and constant supply. He tried whether they would trust him, and rest satisfied with the bread of the day in its day. Thus he tried if they would serve him, and it appeared how ungrateful they were. When God plagued the Egyptians, it was to make them know he was their Lord; when he provided for the Israelites, it was to make them know he was their God.Then said the Lord unto Moses,.... Who no doubt had been praying to him, as was his usual manner, when the people were in distress and complained, and was heard and answered by him: behold:

I will rain bread from heaven for you; though they were a murmuring, rebellious, and ungrateful people, the Lord dealt kindly and bountifully with them; he did not rain fire and brimstone upon them, as on Sodom and Gomorrah, nor snares and an horrible tempest, as on the wicked; but what was desirable by them, and suitable to their present circumstances, even bread, which was what they wanted, and this ready prepared; for though they did dress it in different ways, yet it might be eaten without any preparation at all; and this it was promised should be rained down upon them, there should be great plenty of it; it should come as thick and as fast as a shower of rain, and lie around their camp ready at hand to take up; and this should not spring out of the earth as bread corn does, but come down from heaven; and being such a wonderful thing, a "behold" is prefixed unto it, denoting the marvellousness of it, as well as exciting attention to what was said: our Lord may seem to contradict this, when he says, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, John 6:32, but the reconciliation is easy; for not to observe that it was God, and not Moses, that gave this bread, so though it came from the airy heavens, and along with the dew of it, where it was prepared perhaps by the ministry of angels, and therefore called the corn of heaven, and angels' bread, Psalm 78:24, yet it came not from the heaven of heavens, the third heaven, from whence the true bread, the antitype of this, came, even our Lord Jesus Christ himself:

and the people shall go out, and gather a certain rate of it every day; or "the thing of the day in its day" (i), the bread day by day; to which our Lord may be thought to allude, when he directs his disciples to pray, give us this day our daily bread; as this would be rained every morning, the people were to go out of the camp, and gather it up for their daily use, and which was to be done every day:

that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law or no; by this single instance of their obedience to his will in going out every morning to gather their bread, that should be rained for them, he proposed to try and prove their obedience to his law in all other respects; what regard would be had to it when it should be given, and what might be expected from them, and likewise whether they would depend upon his providence in this case also.

(i) "rem diei in die suo", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Vatablus, Fagius, Drusius.

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