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Exodus 16:9-18

9. And Moses spoke unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the Lord: for he hath heard your murmurings.

9. Et dixit Moses ad Aharon, Dic ad universum coetum filiorum Israel, Accedite in conspectum Jehovae quia audivit murmurationes vestras.

10. And it came to pass, as Aaron spoke unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.

10. Et factum est quum loqueretur Aharon ad universum coetum filiorum Israel, ut respicerent versus desertum: et ecce, gloria Jehovae apparuit in nube.

11. And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying,

11. Loquutus enim fuerat Jehova ad Mosen, dicendo,

12. I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall he filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God.

12. Audivi murmurationes filiorum Israel: alloquere eos, dicendo, Inter vesperas comedetis carnem, et mane saturabimini pane: itaque scietis quod ego sim Jehova Deus vester.

13. And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp; and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.

13. Factum est ergo vespere ut ascenderet coturnix, et operiret castra, mane autem esset descensio roris circum castra.

14. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoarfrost on the ground.

14. Et quum evanesceret descensio roris, ecce in superficie deserti minutum rotundum, minutum quasi pruina super terram.

15. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.

15. Et videntes filii Israel, dixerunt quisque ad proximum suum, Est Man. Nesciebant enim quid esset. Et dixit Moses ad eos, Hic est panis quem dedit Jehova vobis comedendum.

16. This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.

16. Hoc est edictum quod mandat Jehova, Colligite ex eo quisque in mensuram victus sui homer, pro summa numeri animarum vestrarum: quisque pro iis qui sunt in tabernaculo suo accipite.

17. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.

17. Atque ita fecerunt filii Israel et collegerunt, alii multum, alii exiguum.

18. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack: they gathered every man according to his eating.

18. Et quum metirentur per homer, non exeedebat is qui multum collegerat, nec minus habebat qui parum collegerat: quisque ad mensuram victus sui colligebat.

9. And Moses spoke unto Aaron. There is no question but that he here cites them as criminals before the tribunal of God, as if he had said that they were mistaken, if they thought that their murmurings were unobserved. Nevertheless, he alludes also to the cloud, which was the visible symbol of God’s presence; and thus reproves their folly in not hesitating to provoke a God, who was so near, and almost; before their very eyes. First, then, we must remark, that they were in a manner drawn from their hiding-places, that their pride might be broken; and, secondly, that their stupidity was rebuked, for not reverencing God though present. And this is made more clear by the context, where it is said, that the glory of the Lord appeared “toward the wilderness,” by which word I imagine the less habitable region to be indicated. For, although the country on all sides was barren, and uninhabited, yet on one side the Amalekites were near, and other tribes, as we shall soon see. The glory of God I suppose to mean, not that which they saw daily, but which was now manifested to them in an unusual manner to inspire alarm; because they were hardened against its ordinary manifestations.

11. And the Lord spoke174174     Had spoken. — Lat. unto Moses Moses here shows that he had done nothing without God’s command, but had faithfully and modestly discharged the office of a minister. And, surely, unless he had spoken according to God’s word, he would have been rash in promising what we have already seen. Therefore, this is put last in order, though it happened first; and, consequently, I have used175175     J’ai mis le mot Car, pource que ceste sentence rend la raison du precedent. — Fr. the causal particle instead of the copula. The sum is, as before, that God will vindicate His own glory, which the people had impiously impugned, and that He would do good to them, unworthy as they were, in order to glorify His name; as if He had said, After you shall have been convicted of ingratitude, you will then be obliged to confess that I am really the only God, and at the same time your Father.

13. And it came to pass. We shall afterwards see, that, when from weariness of the manna they began to desire meat, quails were again given them; but, while they were yet in their mouths, a terrible punishment was inflicted upon their gluttony. When here they had only complained of their want of food, God for once satiated them with flesh, that He might show them that He has in His hand all kinds and quantity of meats. Yet, it was His will that they should be content with one single sort; for, although they had complained that they were deprived of flesh, at the pots of which they had formerly sat, yet it was not reasonable that He should comply altogether with their unholy desires. Besides, it was profitable for them that certain bounds should be set, that they might learn dependence on His will.

14. And when the dew that lay was gone up. The shape of the manna is here briefly described, viz., that it was like the dew condensed into small round grains. Its taste will be also mentioned elsewhere; but here it was sufficient to show, that this fecundity was not natural, but miraculously given to the clouds, so that they should daily rain manna. For as to the idle talk of certain profane persons,176176     “And even now in all that place this manna comes down in rain, according to what Moses then obtained of God, to send it the people for their sustenance.” — Josephus. Antiq., 3: 1. 6. Burekhardt identifies it with a substance called manna, obtained still by the Arabs from the tarfa or tamarisk; and Rosenmuller speaks of it as being obtained from various trees in different countries. We can well understand the name having been given to any substance, which in some respects resembled it; but there does not appear to be any real correspondence in those which the critics mention. that the manna falls naturally in certain countries, who would thus display the force of their genius, as if they convicted Moses of falsehood, because he mightily extols a mere trifle, — it is all an absurdity which may be easily refuted. It is indeed true, that in certain parts of the world they collect white grains, to which the name of manna has been vulgarly given, but177177     This is from S. M., who says that Aben-Ezra has affirmed man to be an Arabic noun. — W. which one of the Rabbins will have to be Arabic; but it is neither a food, nor does it drop daily from the clouds, nor has it anything in common with this food, which the Prophet properly dignifies with the title of “angels’ food,” because God, who opens the bowels of the earth for the ordinary food of man, at that time made provision for the nourishment of His people from heaven. And that it may appear beyond a doubt that this food was then created miraculously, and contrary to the order of nature, these points are to be taken into consideration. First, It did not appear in the wilderness before the hour assigned by Moses in obedience to God’s command. Secondly, No change of weather prevented the manna from dropping in a regular measure; neither frost, nor rain, nor heat, nor winter, nor summer, interrupted the course of its distillation. Thirdly, A quantity sufficient for the immense multitude was found every day, when they took up an omer for every individual. Again, on the sixth day, the quantity was doubled, that they might lay by a second omer for their Sabbath food. Fifthly, If they preserved any beyond their due allowance, it was subject to putrefaction, whereas, on the Sabbath day, the second portion remained good. Sixthly, Wherever they were, this blessing of God always accompanied them, whilst the neighboring nations lived on corn, and the manna was only known in their camp. Seventhly, As soon as they entered a fruitful and corn-growing country, the manna ceased. Eighthly, That portion, which Moses was commanded to lay up in a vessel, did not grow corrupt. Let these points be well weighed, and the miracle will be more than sufficiently conspicuous, and will disperse all the clouds of objection by its intrinsic brightness.

15. And when the children of Israel saw. The Israelites manifested some appearance of gratitude in calling the food given them from heaven, Man,178178     מן, Man. If this word be referred to the root מנן, it may mean a prepared thing; if to the root מנה, it would mean an assigned portion; but in Syriac and Chaldee man is incontestably what, and the LXX. bear testimony to the existence of the same monosyllabic relative in Hebrew by so rendering it here, to which the V. adds its authority, by saying, Man hu? Quod significat, Quid est hoc? C. found the two first interpretations in the notes of S. M., who makes no allusion to this last rendering. — W. which name means “something prepared;” but if any prefer their opinion who expound it, “a part or portion,” I do not debate the matter, although the former is more correct. Yet, whichever you choose, by this word they confessed that they were dealt with bountifully, because God presented them with food without their having to labor for it; and, therefore, they indirectly condemn their own perverse and wicked murmuring, since it is much better to gather food prepared for them, than to acquire it by the laborious and troublesome culture of the earth. For although this confession was extorted from them by the incredible novelty of the thing, yet at that particular moment their intention was to proclaim God’s loving-kindness. But, since unbelief had clouded their senses, so that they saw not clearly, Moses says that “they wist not what it was.” In these words he rebukes their slowness of heart, because, although previously advertised of the miracle, they were astonished at the sight, as if they had heard nothing of it before. We perceive, then, that they did but half acknowledge God’s mercy; for their gratitude was clouded with the darkness of ignorance, and they were compelled to confess that they did not altogether understand it; and therefore their stupidity is reproved not without bitterness, when Moses tells them that this was the food promised them by God. For, if they had recognized in it the fulfillment of the promise, there was no need of recalling it to their recollection. As to the words themselves, the answer of Moses has misled the Greek and Latin translators, into rendering them interrogatively,179179     See margin A. V. “What is this?” But their difficulty is easily removed; for Moses does not directly state that they inquired about it as of some unknown thing, but expresses their knowledge mixed with ignorance, for the matter was partly doubtful, partly clear; for the power of God was visibly manifest, but the veil of unbelief prevented them from apprehending God’s promised bounty.

16. This is the thing. The exception180180     The rule is here prescribed — the exception does not occur till verse 23. follows, that in gathering the food, they should take account of the Sabbath. A certain daily measure is prescribed; but they are commanded on the day before the Sabbath to lay up twice as much, that they may observe its rest. But, unquestionably, God so far extended His liberality as abundantly to satisfy them. It is well known that an omer is the tenth part of an ephah;181181     See verse 36. “In Josephus’s time it contained 43 1/5 eggshells, (for the Jews, like many of Oriental nations, reckoned their measures by the contents of middle-sized hens eggs.) But it is by no means probable that during the 1500 years which elapsed from the time of Moses to that of Josephus, the measures of the Hebrews remained the same, there being nothing more liable to change.” — Rosenmuller. and perhaps we might discover its proportion to the measures which are now in use amongst us; but I am unwilling to dispute respecting’ an unnecessary point; since it is enough to be sure, that not less was given than was amply sufficient for them.

17. And the children of Israel did so. I do not think that the obedience of the people is here greatly praised; since soon afterwards Moses adds that some, not contented with their due allowance, collected more than was permitted them, and that others also transgressed what was enjoined them as to the Sabbath day. But I thus paraphrase the passage, that, when they had applied themselves to the gathering of it, the whole amount was found sufficient to fill an omer for every individual. For they did not each of them collect a private store; but, when all had assisted, at length they took their prescribed portion from the common heap. Thus, as each was more especially diligent, the more he benefited his slower and less industrious neighbor, without any loss to himself. This is aptly applied by Paul to almsgiving, (2 Corinthians 8:14,) wherein every one bestows of what he possesses on his poor brethren, only let us remember that this is done182182     Per anagogen. — Lat. figuratively; for though there be some likeness between the manna and our daily food, yet there is a distinction between them to be observed, on which we shall elsewhere remark. Since, then, the manna was a food differing from what we commonly use, and was given daily without tillage or labor almost into their hands, it is not to be wondered that God should have called each one of the people to partake of it equally, and forbade any one to take more than another. The case of ordinary food is different; for it is necessary183183     “Pour nourrir les hommes en amitie et paix;” for sustaining men in friendship and peace. — Fr. for the preservation of human society that each should possess what is his own; that some should acquire property by purchase, that to others it should come by hereditary right, to others by the title of presentation, that each should increase his means in proportion to his diligence, or bodily strength, or other qualifications. In fine, political government requires, that each should enjoy what belongs to him; and hence it would be absurd to prescribe, as to our common food, the law which is here laid down as to the manna. And Paul, also, wisely makes the distinction, in enjoining that there should be an equality, not arising from a promiscuous and confused use of property, but by the rich spontaneously and liberally relieving the wants of their brethren, and not grudgingly or of necessity. In this way he reminds us, that whatever goods we possess, flow from the bounty of God, like the manna; but, since each now possesses privately and separately whatever is given them, the same law is not in force for the mutual communication of property, whereby God bound His ancient people. Thence it appears that the distribution of the manna, as it is related by Moses, is properly applied to almsgiving. This doctrine, too, extends still further; for Paul warns believers not to be over-anxious lest they should exhaust themselves by their bounty, because no man’s provision failed, when the Israelites by God’s command divided the manna among them.


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