where were twelve wells of water, and seventy palm trees; and so a very convenient, commodious, and comfortable place to abide at for a time, since here was plenty of water for themselves and cattle, and shady trees to sit under by turns; for as for the fruit of them, that was not ripe at this time of the year, as Aben Ezra observes. Thevenot (t) seems to confound the waters here with the waters of Marah; for he says, the garden of the monks of Tor is the place which in holy Scripture is called Elim, where were sventy palm trees and twelve wells of bitter water; these wells, adds he, are still in being, being near one another, and most of them within the precinct of the garden, the rest are pretty near; they are all hot, and are returned again to their first bitterness; for I tasted says he, of one of them, where people bathe themselves, which by the Arabs is called Hammam Mouse, i.e. the "bath of Moses"; it is in a little dark cave: there is nothing in that garden but abundance of palm trees, which yield some rent to the monks, but the seventy old palm trees are not there now. This does not agree with an observation of the afore mentioned Jewish writer, that palm trees will not flourish in the ground where the waters are bitter; though they delight in watery places, as Pliny (u) says; and yet Leo Africanus (w) asserts, that in Numidia the dates (the fruit of palm trees) are best in a time of drought. A later traveller (x) tells us, he saw no more than nine of the twelve wells that are mentioned by Moses, the other three being filled up by those drifts of sand which are common in Arabia; yet this loss is amply made up by the great increase in the palm trees, the seventy having propagated themselves into more than 2000; under the shade of these trees is the Hammam Mouse, or "bath of Moses", particularly so called, which the inhabitants of Tor have in great veneration, acquainting us that it was here where the household of Moses was encamped. Dr. Pocock takes Elim to be the same with Corondel; about four hours or ten miles south of Marah, he says, is the winter torrent of Corondel in a very narrow valley, full of tamarisk trees, where there is tolerable water about half a mile west of the road; beyond this, he says, about half an hour, or little more than a mile, is a winter torrent called Dieh-Salmeh; and about an hour or two further, i.e. about three or four miles, is the valley or torrent of Wousset, where there are several springs of water that are a little salt; and he thinks that one of them, but rather Corondel, is Elim, because it is said afterwards:
they removed from Elim, and encamped at the Red sea; and the way to Corondel, to go to the valley of Baharum, is part of it near the sea, where he was informed there was good water, and so probably the Israelites encamped there; and Dr. Clayton (y) is of the same mind, induced by the argument he uses: a certain traveller (z), in the beginning of the sixteenth century, tells us, that indeed the wells remain unto this day, but that there is not one palm tree, only some few low shrubs; but he could never have been at the right place, or must say a falsehood, since later travellers, who are to be depended upon, say the reverse, as the above quotations show. As to the mystical application of this passage, the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem make the twelve fountains answerable to the twelve tribes of Israel, and seventy palm trees to the seventy elders of the sanhedrim; and so Jarchi: and more evangelically the twelve fountains of water may denote the abundance of grace in Christ, in whom are the wells of salvation, and the sufficiency of it for all his people; and which the doctrine of the Gospel, delivered by his twelve apostles, discovers and reveals, and leads and directs souls unto; and the seventy palm trees may lead us to think of the seventy disciples sent out by Christ, and all other ministers of the word, who for their uprightness, fruitfulness, and usefulness, may be compared to palm trees, as good men in Scripture are, see Psalm 92:12,
and they encamped there by the waters; where they stayed, as Aben Ezra thinks, twenty days, since, in the first verse of the following chapter, they are said to come to the wilderness of Sin on the fifteenth day of the second month; here being everything agreeable to them for the refreshment of themselves and cattle, they pitched their tents and abode a while; as it is right in a spiritual sense for the people of God to abide by his word and ordinances.
(r) Shaw, ut supra. (Travels, p. 314.) (s) Travels, p. 82. (t) Travels into the Levant, B. 2. ch. 26. p. 166. (u) Nat. Hist. l. 13. c. 4. (w) Descriptio Africae, l. 1. p. 82. (x) Dr. Shaw, ut supra. (r)) (y) Chronolgy of the Hebrew Bible, p. 296, 297. (z) Baumgarten. Peregrinatio, l. 1. c. 21. p. 44.
INTRODUCTION TO Exodus 16
This chapter begins with an account of the journeying of the children of Israel from Elim to the wilderness of Sin, where they murmured for want of bread, Exodus 16:1, when the Lord told Moses that he would rain bread from heaven for them, which Moses informed them of; and withal, that the Lord took notice of their murmurings, Exodus 16:4 which promise the Lord fulfilled; and a description of the bread, and the name of it, are given, Exodus 16:13, and some instructions are delivered out concerning the quantity of it to be gathered, Exodus 16:16, the time of gathering and keeping it, Exodus 16:19, the gathering a double quantity on the sixth day for that and the seventh day, with the reason of it, Exodus 16:22 and a further description of it, Exodus 16:31, and an order to preserve an omer of it in a pot, to be kept for generations to come, that it might be seen by them, Exodus 16:32, and the chapter is concluded with observing, that this bread was ate by the Israelites forty years, even till they came to the borders of the land of Canaan, and the quantity they ate every day is observed what it was, Exodus 16:35.
and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which still bears the same name, as a late traveller (a) informs us, who passed through it, and says, we traversed these plains in nine hours, being all the way diverted with the sight of a variety of lizards and vipers, that are here in great numbers; and elsewhere (b) he says, that vipers, especially in the wilderness of Sin which might very properly be called "the inheritance of dragons", were very dangerous and troublesome, not only our camels, but the Arabs who attended them, running every moment the risk of being bitten. The Red sea, or the bay of it, they came to from Elim, according to Bunting (c) was six miles, and from thence to the wilderness of Sin, sixteen more. This is a different wilderness from that of Zin, which is written with a different letter, Numbers 20:1 and was on the other side of Mount Sinai, as this was the way to it, as follows:
which is between Elim and Sinai according to the above writer (d), it was twenty miles from Elim the Israelites travelled, and forty more ere they came to Sinai. Dr. Shaw (e) says, after traversing the plains in nine hours, we were near twelve hours in passing the many windings and difficult ways which lie beteen those deserts and these of Sinai; the latter consists of a beautiful plain more than a league in breadth, and nearly three in length:
on the fifteenth day of the second month, after their departing out of the land of Egypt; the month Ijar, as the Targum of Jonathan, which answers to part of April and part of May, and has its name from the beauty of the flowers, which appear at this time of the year: the Israelites were now come from thence a month or thirty days; for they came out the fifteenth of Abib or Nisan, and now it was the fifteenth of Ijar; and as the first day of this month, as Jarchi says, was on the first day of the week, this day must be so likewise; and yet sometimes the Jews say (f) this was a sabbath day.
(a) Shaw, p. 314. (b) lb p. 444. (c) Travels, p. 82. (d) Ib. (e) Travels, p. 314. (f) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 87. 2.
murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness; in the wilderness of Sin, where they were, and where no corn was to be had to make bread of; and their murmuring was not only against Moses, as before when they wanted water, but against Aaron also, who were jointly concerned in bringing them out of Egypt. It is a common case, when things do not go so well as to be wished for in church or state, for people to murmur against their governors, ecclesiastic or civil, and lay all the blame to them.
(g) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 15. sect. 1.((h) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 5. p. 17.
would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt; by one of the plagues, or some such like plague as were inflicted on the Egyptians, which killed many of them, and particularly the hailstorm and plague on the firstborn; suggesting that death, even by the hand of the Lord, whether in an ordinary or extraordinary way, was more eligible than their present circumstances: when we sat by the fleshpots, and when we did eat bread to the full; which is an exaggeration of their former circumstances, and the happiness of them, in order to aggravate the misery of their present ones; for it can hardly be thought strictly true, that while they were in hard bondage in Egypt, they had often flesh in their pots, and leisure time to sit and attend them, either the boiling of it in them, or the eating of it when served up in dishes at the table; which they seem to boast of, as if they had several dishes of meat at table, and sat in great splendour, and took a great deal of time to regale themselves, and when they indulged themselves to satiety, having fulness of bread and all provisions:
for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger: but there was no danger of that at present, since they had so many flocks and herds with them; though indeed so large a number would soon have ate them up, and which could not so comfortably be fed upon without bread; and, besides, these they did not choose to slay, unless under great necessity, which they reserved for sacrifice, and for an increase.
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.
they shall prepare that which they bring in; the Targum of Jonathan adds, to eat on the sabbath day; what they did not consume on the sixth day was to be prepared and reserved for the seventh day; that is, it was to be baked or boiled as they thought fit to have it, or eat it as it was, which they pleased, see Exodus 16:23 only one part of it was to be kept till the next day:
and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily: on that day should be rained double what fell on other days, and so twice as much should be gathered up; the reason for which is not here mentioned, but afterwards given; though Moses no doubt was now made acquainted with it, or otherwise he could not have informed the princes and people of it, as he afterwards did, Exodus 16:23.
at even, then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt: that they were brought out they knew, but they make this to be an act and deed of Moses and Aaron, Exodus 16:3 whereas it was the work of the Lord; and at evening they should have a fresh proof of it, and that they were not brought forth to be killed with hunger, as they complained, by the quails coming up and covering their camp, whereby they would have flesh to eat, Exodus 16:12.
and what are we, that ye murmur against us? either signifying that there was no reason for it, and no occasion of it, since not they, but the Lord, brought them out of Egypt, and into those circumstances; what they did was only by his command, and with a view for their good, and therefore it was both unreasonable and ungrateful in them to murmur against them; or as observing, that seeing they murmured against the Lord, it was no strange thing to them they should murmur against them, and therefore took it the more quietly and patiently.
when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat; cause the quails to come up, and fall about their tents:
and in the morning bread to the full; by raining it from heaven all around them:
for that, or rather "then" (k):
the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him; it will then appear that he has heard them, and taken notice of them, by giving them bread and flesh, they complained of the want of; and yet did not resent in a way of wrath and displeasure their murmurings, but kindly, bountifully, and in a most marvellous manner provided for them, which was acting like himself, a God gracious and merciful:
and what are we? that we should be the objects of your resentment, and be murmured at, and complained of, who had done nothing to deserve such treatment:
your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord; not only against them, but against the Lord also; or not so much against them as against the Lord, whose messengers and ministers they were, and whom they represented, obeyed, and served; thus whatever is done to the ministers of Christ, he reckons as done to the Father, and to himself, Luke 10:16.
(k) "testabitur se audisse", Tigurine version.
say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel; to the heads of them, to as many as could conveniently hear him, and were to report what he said to the rest:
come near before the Lord; who was in the pillar of cloud, which from the first appearance of it never removed from them, nor the Lord from that; though some have thought, that before the tabernacle was built, there was some small tent or little tabernacle where the Shechinah was; but for this there is no foundation, there is for the other suggested:
for he hath heard your murmurings; which is repeated again and again, to observe to them the evil of it, and what notice the Lord took of it, though he indulged them in so gracious a manner he did.
that they looked toward the wilderness; they were already in the wilderness of Sin, and they looked straight forward toward that part of it which was yet before them, or to the wilderness of Sinai, which was right onward, and whither they were travelling:
and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud; which went before them; there was a more than common brightness in it, an effulgence and beam of light and glory shining in it. Christ, the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person, appeared in it, in some visible displays of his majesty, which made it very observable to them.
saying; as follows:
speak unto them, saying, at even ye shall eat flesh; meaning that very evening, when the quails came up, as the following verse shows:
and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; the next morning, when the manna fell around their camp, so that they had bread, and fulness of it:
and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God; good and gracious, kind and merciful, ever mindful of his covenant and promises, able to supply their wants, and provide them with everything necessary and sufficient for them.
and covered the camp: their numbers were so many, as indeed such a prodigious company of people as those were required a great number to satisfy them with. These quails, which were sent in the evening, at the close of the day, were an emblem of worldly things, which are not the portion of the saints and people of God, what they are to live upon, and take up their satisfaction in; nor are they abiding, but transitory things, which come and go, make themselves wings and fly away toward heaven:
and in the morning the dew lay round about the host; the camp of Israel; or a lay of dew (m), an emblem of the grace of God, and the blessings of it, see Hosea 14:6.
(l) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 1. sect. 5. (m) "cubatio roris", Montanus, Piscator, Cartwright; "accubitus roris", Drusius; "situs vel stramentum roris", Munster.
behold, upon the face of the wilderness; upon the surface of it, all around the camp of Israel:
there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground; which is what is in the next verse called "manna". Before the sun rose there was nothing but a dew to be seen; when that was gone off through the force of the sun, then the manna appeared; which was but a "small thing", and very unpromising for food, and especially for such a vast number of people; and a "round" thing, for which it is after compared to a coriander seed, as is thought; though the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan do not interpret the word of the round form, but rather refer to its smallness; and which is expressed in the Vulgate Latin version,"small, and as if beat with a pestle;''and for its white colour, as well as its smallness, it looked like hoar frost on the ground. Jarchi says there were two dews, within which it lay as something covered in a box, and he seems to be right; for it is certain from Numbers 11:9, that there was a dew which fell first, and then the manna fell upon it; and from hence it is plain also, that there was a dew over the manna, which went up from it when the sun rose: and the design of this seems to be to keep this heavenly bread pure and clean for the Israelites, that it might neither partake of the dust nor sand of the wilderness where it fell, and that nothing might light upon it until the time of gathering it came. The Jews, in memory of this, will sometimes put bread upon the table between two table cloths (n); and it is highly probable, that to this the allusion is of the "hidden manna" in Revelation 2:17, by which is meant our Lord Jesus Christ, the antitype of this manna, as will be observed as we pass on, in all the circumstances of it; the manna came with the dew, and was covered with it, and hid in it; Christ is the gift of God's free grace to the sons of men, and is exhibited in the word of grace, where he lies hid to men in the glory of his person and the fulness of his grace, until revealed and made known. The figure of the manna being "round", which is a perfect figure, may denote the perfection of Christ in his person, natures, and office; he being perfectly God and perfectly man, having all the essential perfections both of the divine and human natures in him, as well as all fulness of grace; and being made perfect through sufferings, is become a complete Saviour, and by his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, has perfected for ever his sanctified ones: and the manna being "small", may signify the meanness of Christ in the eyes of men in his state of humiliation, and the unpromising appearance he made of being the Saviour and King of Israel; the white colour of it may direct to the purity of Christ, to the holiness of his natures, and the beauty of his person, being white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousands.
(n) Vid. Fagium in loc.
they said one to another, it is manna; not such as is known by that name now, which is only used in medicine; nor anything that was then known by any such name; but so they called it, because it was, as Jarchi says, a preparation of food, or food ready prepared for them, from "manah", which signifies to appoint, prepare, and distribute, see Daniel 1:5, so Christ is appointed of God, and prepared in his purposes and decrees, and delivered out, by his grace as proper food for his people, who have everyone their portion in due season: for Kimchi and Ben Melech give the sense of the word, a gift and portion from God; and such is Christ, the gift of his grace, and an unspeakable one. Some think these words were spoken by the Israelites on first sight of the manna, by way of question, "Man hu, what is it?" and so Josephus (o) says it signifies in their language; but it does not appear that the word is so used in the Hebrew tongue, though it might in the Syriac or Chaldee, which was more in use in the times of Josephus. But it can hardly be thought that the Israelites could speak in either of these dialects at this time; it is much more probable what others say, that it so signifies in the Egyptian tongue; and it is not at all to be wondered at that Israel, just come out of Egypt, should use an Egyptian word: and this best agrees with the reason that follows, "for they wist not what it was"; which contradicts our version; for if they knew not what it was, how came they to call it manna? but taking the above words as an interrogation, asking one another what it was, those come in very pertinently, and assign a reason of the question, because they were ignorant of it, having never seen any such thing before; and this sense is confirmed by what Moses says in the next clause, telling them what it was: and thus Christ is unknown to his own people, until he is revealed unto them; not by flesh and blood, by carnal reason or carnal men, but by the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; and he remains always unknown to natural men, though ever so wise and prudent:
and Moses said unto them, this is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat; which he had promised them the day before, and which he had now rained in plenty about them; and which they had as a free gift of his, without any merit and desert of theirs, and without their labour, diligence, and industry, and which they had now power from him to eat of freely and plentifully.
(o) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 1. sect. 6.
gather of it every man according to his eating; according to his appetite, and according to the appetites of those that were in his family, as much as they can all eat; and that they may have enough, the particular quantity is fixed for each of them. This act of gathering, in the mystical sense, may respect the exercise of faith on Christ, laying hold of him as he is held forth in the word, receiving him, and feeding upon him with a spiritual appetite, and that freely, largely, plentifully, and encouraging others to do the same:
an omer for every man; or head, or by poll (p); they were to take the poll of their families, the number of them, and reckon to every head, or assign to every man, such a measure of the manna, and which was sufficient for a man of the keenest appetite; what this measure was; see Gill on Exodus 16:36 This must be understood not of sucking infants, and such that were sick and infirm, and of poor appetites, that could not feed upon and digest such sort of food, only of those that could:
according to the number of your persons, take ye every man for them which are in his tent: this was to be done after it was gathered and brought in, either by certain overseers of this affair, or heads of families, who, according to the number of those that were in their tents, who were eaters of such sort of food, was to take an omer of it for everyone of them.
(p) "ad caput", Montanus; "pro capite", Fagius, Drusius, Cartwright; so Ainsworth.
he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; when their gatherings were put together in one heap, and each had his omer measured out to him; he that had gathered more than an omer had no more allotted to him, and he that gathered not so much as an omer, yet had a full one measured out to him: or he, that is, Moses, "did not cause him to abound" (q), that gathered much, he had no more for his share than another; nor "suffer" him "to want" (r) that gathered little, so that they all had alike; which shows, that though there may be different exercises of grace, yet it is the same grace in all; all have alike precious faith, and an equal interest in Christ, the object of it; all are equally redeemed by his precious blood, and justified by his righteousness, and have their sins forgiven on the foot of his atonement; all have the same Christ, and the same blessings of grace, and are entitled to the same eternal glory and happiness. The apostle quotes this passage, and applies it to that equality there should be among Christians in acts of beneficence and charity, that what is wanting in the one through poverty, may be made up by the riches of others, 2 Corinthians 8:14,
they gathered every man according to his eating; according to the number of persons he had to eat of it; there always was, upon an average, some gathering more and others less, an omer gathered and distributed to every person. Jarchi takes this to be a miracle, that nothing should ever be wanting of an omer to a man; and so Aben Ezra observes, that the ancients say this is a miracle.
(q) "et non abundare fecit", Montanus. (r) "non minoravit", Montanus; "non defuit", Tigurine version.
let no man leave of it until the morning; not that every man was bound to eat up the quantity distributed to him; he might give what he could not eat to those that could eat more, if there were any such; or he might give it to his cattle, or cast it away, but he was not to reserve it until the next day for his use; which was to teach him that God would bestow this benefit and blessing on him daily, and he might expect it, whose mercies are new every morning; and to instruct him to live every day upon the providence of God for his daily food; as indeed every man ought to do so, let his circumstances be ever so affluent; and, in a more spiritual and evangelic sense, it teaches believers to live continually every day by faith on Christ, and to say day by day, Lord, evermore give us this bread, John 6:34.
but some of them left it until the morning; out of distrust, for fear they should have none the next day; being men of little faith, that could not trust God for a supply for the morrow; the Targum of Jonathan says, these were Dathan and Abiram; and so Jarchi:
and it bred worms, and stank; or by an "hysteron proteron", and transposition of the words, the sense may be, that it stank, corrupted, and putrefied, and so produced worms, in which order the words lie, Exodus 16:24, and this was not from the nature of the manna to breed worms so soon, but God so ordering and disposing it, that it should do so; for otherwise it would keep to another day, as what was gathered on the sixth day kept to the seventh, and there was a part of it kept for many ages, see Exodus 16:24, and since the manna was of the meal kind, perhaps those worms it bred might be of the weevil sort, as Scheuchzer conjectures (s):
and Moses was wroth with them; for breaking the commandment of God.
(s) Physica Sacra, vol. 2. p. 179.
every man according to his eating; according to the number of persons he had in his family to eat of it, and as much as everyone could eat; there never was any lack or scarcity of it, but every morning there it was for them, and they gathered it, an omer for everyone:
and when the sun waxed hot, it melted; and so what was left ungathered, being exhaled by the sun and laid up in the clouds, generated and increased, and became a provision to be let down the next morning; it being the will of God that it should not be trampled upon or exposed; and that the Israelites might be diligent, and not neglect the time of gathering it: and the Targum of Jonathan says, from the fourth hour, or ten o'clock and onward, the sun was hot upon it and melted it, which is the time of day when the sun is hottest: and some things, we may observe, are hardened by the sun, and others are softened, as the manna was, even to a liquefaction; though otherwise it was of so hard a nature as to be beaten in a mortar and ground in a mill, Numbers 11:8.
they gathered twice as much bread; as they had used to do on other days, a greater quantity falling, and which was more easily taken up:
two omers for one man; or, "instead of one" (t) of one omer; so it turned out when they came to measure what they had gathered; otherwise they had no intention in gathering it, but lying in a great quantity, they gathered as much as they could, or could well carry, and upon measuring it so it proved; for it does not appear that Moses had as yet acquainted them what was to be, or would be gathered on this day; nor had he any orders so to do from the Lord, only he was told by him that so it would be, and accordingly it came to pass, see Exodus 16:5.
and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses; what had happened, that the people that day had gathered as much more as they had used to do on other days: these seem to be the overseers of this affair, before whom what was gathered was brought, and in whose presence it was measured, and who took care that everyone should have his omer and no more: this makes it plain that the people acted without design, and knew not that they were to gather on this day double to other days; since the rulers knew nothing of it, nor of the reason of it, and it can hardly be imagined that the people should know and the rulers be ignorant.
(t) "pro uno", Tigurine version.
tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord; according to Jarchi, the rulers asked Moses what this day was, different from other days, that double the quantity should be gathered? from whence, he says, we learn, that Moses had not as yet declared the sabbath to them; and this is indeed the first time we read of one; and though, as there was divine worship before, there must be times for it; but as there was as yet no certain place for worship, so no certain time for it, but as it was appointed by the heads of families, or as more families might agree unto and unite in; at least no day before this appears to be a day of rest from servile labour, as well as for holy use and service:
bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; the phrase "today" is not in the text, and not necessarily supplied; the sense being plainly this, that they might take and boil what they would, and dress as much of the manna as they pleased, and eat what they would, but not that they were to bake and boil for the next day; for it is clear, by what follows, that the manna of the next day was not dressed either way, for then it would be no wonder that it did not stink; and as yet the law for not kindling a fire on the sabbath day was not given; and therefore, for aught to the contrary, they might roast or seethe on that day, or eat it as it was, as they themselves thought fit:
and that which remaineth over; what they did not bake, nor seethe, nor eat:
lay up for you to be kept until the morning whereas on other days they were to leave nothing of it till the morning, but destroy it or cast it away, whatever was left uneaten.
and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein, which was the case, when it was left or laid up on other days; and it showed that there was an interposition of divine Providence in the keeping of it to this day, and clearly confirmed it to be the will of God that this day should henceforward be to them the rest of the holy sabbath.
for today is a sabbath unto the Lord; a time of rest from labour, and to be employed in the service of the Lord:
today ye shall not find it in the field: should they seek for it, which they had no occasion to do, since there was a sufficiency provided the day before; and this he said to prevent their going out to seek for it, which, if out of curiosity or for any other reason any of them should do, it would be in vain and fruitless.
but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath; which is repeated, being a new thing, to impress it on their minds: in it there shall be none: no manna; none shall fall, and so none can be gathered, and therefore it would be to no purpose to go out and seek for it; as also there would be no need of it, since they would always have a double portion on the sixth day.
that there went out some of the people for to gather; to gather manna, as on other days; which they did not through want of provision or a greedy appetite, for they had bread every day, and on that day to the full, but to gratify their curiosity, or to see whether the words of Moses stood, as Aben Ezra expresses it, that is, whether what he said was true, or came to pass, that there should be none, and they should not be able to find any on that day, and so it was:
and they found none; no manna; in the places where they used to find it in plenty on other days.
how long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? this is not said merely with respect to their breach of the commandment of the sabbath, as if they had long refused to observe and keep that; whereas that was but one command, and but just given; but upon their breach of that, he takes occasion to upbraid them with their former transgressions of other laws of his, and which they had continued in, or at least were frequently committing; and which was a proof of their perverseness and rebellion against him, though he was so kind and bountiful to them.
therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; wherefore they had no occasion to go out in search of manna, as well as it was a vain thing to do it; and especially as it was against a command of God, and being ungrateful in them, as there was such a provision made for them:
abide ye every man in his place; in his tent for that day, giving himself up to religious exercises, to pray and praise, instruct his family, and in all things serve the Lord he was directed to:
let no man go out of his place on the seventh day; not beyond two thousand cubits, as the Targum of Jonathan, which is the space the Jews generally fix upon for a man to walk on a sabbath day, so far he might go and no further; and which perhaps is the same space as is called a sabbath day's journey; see Gill on Acts 1:12.
and it was like coriander seed, white that the colour of the manna was white is not only here asserted, but is plain from other passages, it being like the hoar frost, which is white, Exodus 16:14 and its colour is the colour of bdellium, Numbers 11:7 or pearl, which is of a white bright colour, as the word is interpreted by the Jews; and who say (u), that the manna was round as a coriander seed, and white as a pearl; but then if it is here compared to the coriander seed on that account, some other seed than what we call coriander seed must be meant, since that is off darkish colour; though it is thought by most that the comparison with it is not on account of the colour, but its form being round, as a coriander seed is, and as the manna is said to be, Exodus 16:14. Josephus (w) thinks it is compared to the coriander seed for its being about the size of that seed; though I must confess it seems to me to be compared to the coriander seed for its colour, and therefore "Gad", the word used, must signify something else than what we call coriander seed; but what that is, is not easy to say: Ben Gersom is of the same mind, and thinks it refers to colour, and fancies the "Gad" had his name from his whiteness, Genesis 20:11. Artapanus (x), the Heathen, makes mention of this food of the Jews in the wilderness, where, he says, they were thirty years; during which time God rained upon them meal like to panic (a sort of grain like millet), in colour almost as white as snow: and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey; or cakes that had honey mixed in them: though in Numbers 11:8 the taste of it is said to be as the taste of fresh oil, which Saadiah Gaon, Aben Ezra, and others, account for thus; that if a man ate of it as it came down, it was as cakes of honey, but, when dressed, it was as the taste of fresh oil; however, it was very palatable and agreeable to the taste; honey that drops from palm trees is said to be not much different in taste from oil: the Jews (y) have a notion that there were all kinds of tastes in the manna, suited to the ages and appetites of persons, and that as they would have it, so it tasted; which notion the author of the book of Wisdom seems to give into,"Instead whereof thou feddest thine own people with angels' food, and didst send them from heaven bread prepared without their labour, able to content every man's delight, and agreeing to every taste. For thy sustenance declared thy sweetness unto thy children, and serving to the appetite of the eater, tempered itself to every man's liking.'' (Wisdom 16:20-21)Leo Africanus (z) speaks of a sort of manna found in great plenty in the deserts in Libya, which the inhabitants gather in vessels every morning to carry to market, and which being mixed with water is drank for delight, and being put into broth has a very refreshing virtue: of the round form and white colour of manna, as applicable to Christ, notice has been taken on Exodus 16:14 and the sweetness of its taste well agrees with him the antitype: his person is so to them who have tasted that the Lord is gracious; his word or Gospel is sweeter than the honey or the honeycomb; his mouth is most sweet, the doctrines that proceed from it, and the exceeding great and precious promises of it; his fruits and the blessings of his grace, peace, pardon, righteousness, &c. are sweet to those that sit under his shadow, where faith often feeds sweetly and with delight upon him,
(u) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 75. 1.((w) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 1. sect. 6. (x) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 436. (y) Shemot Rabba, sect 25. fol. 108. 4. & Bemidar Rabba, sect. 7. fol. 188. (z) Descriptio Africae, l. 7. p. 631.
this is the thing which the Lord commandeth; namely, what follows:
fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; which was the quantity allowed a man every day; this measure was to be laid up, and reserved for posterity in future generations, not to eat, nor so much as taste of, for then it would soon have been gone, but to look at, as follows:
that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt; that they might see what sort of food was provided for them, and what quantity each man had of it every day; and so have an ocular proof of the wisdom, power, and goodness of God, in providing for their support in a wilderness, where no supplies were to be had; and when they were just come out of an enemy's country: thus Christ is the food of his people, while they are in the wilderness of this world; and is never so until they are brought out of the state of nature's darkness and bondage, like that of the Egyptians; and who, being the food of the saints in ages past, is presented to the eye of faith, for its encouragement to look to him and believe in him, receive, embrace, and feed upon him.
and put an omer full of manna therein; the manna, and the full measure of it, according to a man's eating, was to be put into it, denoting that a full Christ, or Christ in all the fulness of his person and grace, is to be held forth in the word and ordinances to the eye of faith:
and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations; in a place where the Lord would hereafter fix the symbol of his presence, the ark, cherubim, and mercy seat; and may signify the presence of Christ with his Father, the efficacy of his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, his mediation and intercession; for he is not only held forth in the word, for faith to look at, but he is before the throne as though he had been slain, Revelation 5:6.
(a) De Cong. Quaer. Erud. Gratia, p. 438.
until they came to a land inhabited: where the ground was cultivated, and corn was produced to make bread of, which could not be had in a wilderness; and therefore God graciously provided for them every day, and fed them with manna till they came to such a place:
they did eat manna until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan; that is, Gilgal: the Targum of Jonathan is,"they ate manna forty years in the life of Moses, until they came unto the land of habitation; they ate manna forty days after his death, until they passed over Jordan, and entered the extremities of the land of Canaan:''some have thought this verse was not written by Moses, but Joshua, or some other hand after his death since he did not live quite to the cessation of the manna; which need not be much disputed or objected to; though it may be considered that Moses led Israel to the borders of the land of Canaan, though he did not go with them so far as Gilgal, and died before the manna ceased; yet, as he was assured of it, he could write this in certain faith of it, and especially by a spirit of prophecy: this signifies that the children of God are to live by faith upon Christ, while they are in the wilderness of this world; nor will this spiritual food be wanting to them while in it; but when they are come to Canaan's land, to the heavenly glory, they will no more walk and live by faith, but by sight: the word and ordinances will then cease; Christ will be no more held forth to them in that way, but they shall see him as he is, and behold his glory,