King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Exodus 16

The Israelites come to the wilderness of Sin. They murmur for food, God promises bread from heaven. (1-12) God sends quails and manna. (13-21) Particulars respecting the manna. (22-31) An omer of manna to be preserved. (32-36)

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The Israelites come to the wilderness of Sin. They murmur for food, God promises bread from heaven

1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.

2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:

3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

4 Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.

6 And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt:

7 And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?

8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.

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

10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake 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.

11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

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 be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.

God sends quails and manna

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.

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 hoar frost on the ground.

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 unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.

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.

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

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.

19 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.

20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.

21 And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.

Particulars respecting the manna

22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.

23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.

24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.

25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.

26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.

27 And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.

28 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?

29 See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.

30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

An omer of manna to be preserved

32 And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.

33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.

34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.

35 And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.

36 Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Sin, after they had encamped on the Red Sea. Num. xxxiii. 10. The 33d station was also in the desert of Sin, or Cades. But that is far remote from this desert. Num. xx. 1. C. — Month of May, Jiar. Their provisions lasted a whole month. On their failure, they presently have recourse to murmurs.

Ver. 3. Over, greedily feasting on the most nutritive meats. H.

Ver. 4. Prove. Show by experience. Therefore he orders the Hebrews to gather manna only for one day, except on Friday. Many suppose that this bread of angels began to fall on Sunday, (v. 22. Origen. hom. 7.) or on Friday. C.

Ver. 5. Provide. Hence, this day was called Parasceve, or the day of preparation.

Ver. 7. Morning, when manna fell, as quails were brought the former evening, v. 12. and 13. These fresh instances of protection might, convince them that they had not been imposed upon by Moses in leaving Egypt. M.

Ver. 8. Lord. All rebellion against lawful authority is resented by God. D.

Ver. 9. Before, to the place appointed for public worship. C. xxxii. 7. C.

Ver. 12. Say. Similar promises are often repeated, to appease the seditious mob. H.

Ver. 13. Quails. All the Oriental languages express these birds by solaem, though some have asserted, that pheasants or locusts are here meant. Josephus (Ant. 3. 1) informs us, that great flocks of quails are found about the gulph of Arabia. They return to Europe from the warmer regions, about the beginning of May, at which time God directed the course of vast multitudes to the camp of Israel. Hesychius says, the chennion, a smaller species of quails, was salted and dried, as the Hebrews did theirs. Num. xi. 32. See Ps. lxxvii. 26. C. — Dew, upon which lay the miraculous bread, around the camp. None fell within, as the place was not sufficiently clean. M.

Ver. 15. Manhu. S. Jerom adds the explanation, (D.) which is almost universally adopted, though some pretend that man, even in Chaldee, means who, and not what? Calmet refers them to Ps. lx. 7. for a proof of the contrary. Manna is found in various parts of the world, the best in Arabia. But this was of a different nature, and wholly miraculous, falling every day, except Saturday, throughout the 40 years that the Hebrews dwelt in the desert. It melted with the heat of the sun, (v. 21,) though it would bear the fire, and might be made into cakes, which cannot be done with the Arabian manna. It filled the mouth of God’s servants with the most delightful tastes, (Wisd. xvi. 20,) while the wicked were disgusted with it. Num. xi. 6. — Our soul is dry, &c. It is called the bread of angels, being made or brought by their ministry, and of such a quality, that they would desire nothing better, if they stood in need of food. C. — Whatever a man gathered, he had only a gomor full, and this sufficed for young and old, sick and healthy; if any was kept over the night it became corrupt, except that which was reserved for Saturday, and that which was preserved in the ark for a memorial for several hundred years. W. — Yet this wonderful bread was only a figure of that which Jesus Christ promised to give, (S. John vi.) and as the figure must come beneath the reality, (Col. ii.) what we receive in the blessed Eucharist, must undoubtedly be something better than manna. Would Zuinglius and Calvin attempt then to persuade us, that Christ appointed their mere sacramental bread, to supersede and excel the favour of manna granted to the fathers, who are dead? Mere bread cannot stand in competition with this miraculous food. But the truth which it foreshewed, according to all the doctors of the Church, I mean the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, in the blessed sacrament, under the appearances of bread and wine, are surely more excellent than manna itself. It is miraculously brought upon our altars by the words of Jesus Christ, spoken by his priests at Mass, and dispensed to infinite multitudes, in the most distant places from each other, and even in the smallest particle. H. — It giveth grace in this life, and glory in the next, and this in proportion to each one’s disposition. To the wicked it may appear contemptible, but to the servants of God it is the most delightful and supersubstantial. W. — Button allows that the Protestant version of this verse “seems to make Moses guilty of a contradiction. It is manna, for they wist not what it was. But the Sept. (he might add the Vulg. also) translate it according to the original.” H.

Ver. 18. Eat. Each one’s provision was just enough to fill a gomor; (M.) or those who had collected more, gave to those who wanted. 2 Cor. viii. 15. Any one might take less. C.

Ver. 20. Putrified. So God was pleased to punish their diffidence in Providence. H.

Ver. 21. Morning. Wisd. xvi. 28, we find the reason of this ordinance, which enforces diligence, and was a constant admonition to bless God without delay. H. — It melted, that it might not be trodden under foot by the profane. M.

Ver. 22. Told Moses, wishing to know why God had given this injunction.

Ver. 29. Place. Onkelos allows a person to travel 2000 cubits on the sabbath. Some heretics understand this literally, and would not alter the posture in which they were found by the festival. Orig. Philos. 1.

Ver. 31. Manna. This miraculous food, with which the children of Israel were nourished and supported during their sojourning in the wilderness, was a figure of the bread of life, which we receive in the blessed sacrament, for the food and nourishment of our souls, during the time of our mortal pilgrimage, till we come to our eternal home, the true land of promise: where we shall keep an everlasting sabbath: and have no further need of sacraments. Ch. — Seed in size, but white; whereas the seed of coriander is black. M. — Sam. “like a grain of rice.” — Honey, or oil. Num. xi. 8. C. — This was the usual taste. But if any one liked another better, the manna assumed it. Wisd. xvi. 20. M.

Ver. 33. A vessel, “a golden urn,” as the Sept. and S. Paul (Heb. ix. 4,) express it. This was placed in the tabernacle, where the Hebrews met to pray, till the ark was made. C.

Ver. 35. Land. Manna was withdrawn as soon as usual food could be easily procured. H. — In this desert of the world, we are supported by the sacraments. As manna fell in the night, so the mysteries of faith are concealed from the curious researches of men. It melted with the sunbeams; so mysteries confound the idle attempts of those who would fathom their impenetrable depth. Those who ate manna died, but the worthy receiver of the blessed sacrament will live for ever. C.