Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Exodus 16:31-36 Manna From Heaven

"The people of Israel called the bread manna.
It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.
Moses said, 'This is what the LORD has commanded:
"Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come,
so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the desert
when I brought you out of Egypt." '

So Moses said to Aaron,
'Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it.
Then place it before the LORD to be kept for the generations to come.'

As the LORD commanded Moses,
Aaron put the manna in front of the Testimony, that it might be kept.
The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled:
they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.

(An omer is one tenth of an ephah.)

Exodus 16:31-36 (NIV)

Some comments:
  • Manna means "What is it?" and expresses the surprise that the Israelites experienced at discovering this source of food which had appeared just as the LORD had promised.  (See Exodus 16:11-16.)
  • The NIV Study Bible (pg. 113 note on Exodus 16:31) notes that although some have tried to attribute this manna to a naturally occurring phenomenon, such as residue from various scale insects, several factors suggest that this does not fit the circumstances:
  1. Manna means 'What is it?' so it seems to have been something outside of their normal experience.
  2. The description of the manna's appearance and taste suggests that it was something not experienced by other peoples in other times.
  3. The daily abundance of the manna and the fact that twice as much was regularly provided on the sixth day in preparation for the Sabbath, while none ever appeared on the Sabbath day itself does not fit a natural phenomenon.
  4. The fact that the manna was regularly amply available for such a large amount of people, no matter where they were, and during their entire desert travels argues against it being a natural substance.
  5. The fact that they were able to keep a sample of the manna as a witness for future generations to view suggests that it was no ordinary food.
  • By the way, the manna was kept in a jar made of gold (Hebrew 9:4)
  • An omer was about 2 quarts or liters.
  • An ephah was equivalent to 10 omers.  This was 3/5 of a bushel, or 22 liters.
  • When they speak of the 'Testimony', they are referring to the two stone tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were inscribed.  These were the basic obligations of the covenant established at Sinai.  The word for 'Testimony' is related to a Babylonian word meaning 'covenant stipulations'.
  • At this time, the manna was kept in a jar in front of the Testimony. (Exodus 16:33-34)
  • The Israelites ate manna for 40 years, until they arrived in Canaan.  The manna stopped at the time that the Israelites celebrated their first Passover in Canaan (Joshua 5:10-12

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