|<< Ex 15|
Exodus 16-18 Listen
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Hebrews have just witnessed a remarkable delivery from Egypt accompanied by 10 indisputable miracles in the plagues God brought upon the Egyptians from which the Hebrews were spared. They have just witnessed the miracle of a lifetime when they saw the waters of the Red Sea part enabling them to walk across on dry land. They have just witnessed the destruction of Pharaoh's mighty army along with 600 chariots in that same Red Sea as the Egyptians pursued them. Is it possible that anyone could question the provisional hand of God after such a bountiful manifestation of miracles? Hang on to your hats! YES! THE HEBREWS DID QUESTION GOD'S ABILITY TO PROVIDE! I know it doesn't seem possible at this point, but true nonetheless. It's just a little over a month out of Egypt, and look at verse 2, "And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:" Incredible! What's wrong with these people! They get a little bit hungry and look back with fondness at their existence in Egypt. And they blame Moses for what they consider to be a life-threatening dilemma? Can you really trust the consensus of the masses for sound decision making? We often hear people reflect back on tough times in their lives and refer to them as "the good ol' days," but this is outrageous; THESE HEBREWS HAD BEEN ABUSED SLAVES!
God's solution is simple...at least it's simple to God - manna. The first time they see this manna is verse 15. The phrase "it is manna" is translated from just one Hebrew word, "mawn." Literally, the word "mawn" in Hebrew means, "What is it?" That was their first reaction to the bread-like substance left on the ground after the dew evaporated. It is interesting that this name sticks; for forty years they call it, "What is it?". That would have made a great Abbot and Costello routine back in the wilderness akin to "Who's on first?". "Hey mom! What's for breakfast?" Mom replies, "What is it." Junior replies, "I don't know, you tell me."
But wait, there's more - quail for supper. Lots and lots of quail - God sent them. Now the people who come up with a natural solution for every miracle say that the quail landed on the first available spot after their long flight across the Red Sea. Whatever...they just happen to land right there where the Hebrews just gather them up and cook them for supper. Incidentally, there is another quail episode later in Number 11:16-35 (see notes).
You might be wondering why they just did not eat meat from their own livestock when they were hungry. They were not permitted to do so except under special circumstances. Those circumstances are explained in Leviticus 17 (see notes). Nope...no steak or lamb chops; for right now they'll have to make due with meals of manna and quail.
It's interesting to note the keeping of the Sabbath day even before the giving of the law in Exodus 20 (see notes). The Sabbath apparently was sacred to their ancestors going back to creation where Genesis 2:2-3 (see notes) says, "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." Exodus 16:23 regards the significance of the Sabbath without any explanation, even though this is the first time in the Bible that the word "Sabbath" occurs, "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." They could not gather an extra day's worth of manna on any day except Friday; it would become infested with worms if they tried to save it. But Fridays were different; it would keep through Saturday. We see in Exodus 16:30, "So the people rested on the seventh day." And when some initially went out Saturday morning to gather their daily allotment of manna, there was none. This manna is remarkable stuff. Moses commands Aaron to put some in a jar for a memorial...and canning is born. By the way, we see in verse 35 that manna remained part of the Hebrew diet for 40 years until they reached Canaan in Joshua 5:10-12 (see notes).
We are told in verse 34 that the jar eventually made its way into the "Testimony" (aka "Ark") to be preserved. Hebrews 9:4 (see notes) acknowledges its presence there. However, the jar of manna disappeared somewhere between Moses and Solomon. We see in II Chronicles 5:10 (see notes), "There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt." The same statement of fact is found in I Kings 8:9 (see notes).
1 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.
2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?
3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?
4 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.
5 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.
6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?
The Hebrews have been traveling. There in the wilderness they begin to "chide" Moses. Look at verse 3, "And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?" I guess we'd better get used to these whining Hebrews; I don't think they're going to ever stop. Now notice; they don't just discover water; God makes a show - a miracle if you please - right before their eyes for the provision of water. Moses strikes the rock with his rod and water gushes forth. This place gets a double name, "Massah" and "Meribah.". "Massah" means "testing," and "Meribah" means "quarrelling." How appropriate. The water-from-the-rock miracle takes place again with the descendants of these people 39 years later in Numbers 20:7-13 (see notes). However, on that occasion, Moses is told by God to simply speak to the rock - not strike it with his rod. His disobedience on that occasion results in God's refusal to allow Moses to be the one to lead the Hebrews into Canaan.
By the way, this incident here takes place at Horeb, another name for the mountain range of Sinai. If that name looks familiar, it's because that's where Moses was keeping his flock of sheep for his father-in-law when he talked to God in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1, see notes). You will recall that on that occasion in Exodus 3:12, God had told Moses, "When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain." Well, here they are just as God had said. As a matter of fact, Moses' father-in-law knows exactly where to find Moses and the Hebrews down in Exodus 18 (see below) when he brings Moses' family to meet up with them. It was never an option for Israel to head straight up out of Egypt into Canaan.
8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12 But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi:
16 For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
In that big ol' wilderness, the Amalekites decide that Israel is infringing on their territorial rights; they go against the Hebrews in battle. "Amalek" was Esau's grandson (Genesis 36:12), and the Tribe of Amalek consists of his descendants. Moses puts Joshua (his first mention) in charge of the fighting men while Moses just stands up above the battle holding his rod in the air. As long as he holds the rod up, Israel prevails in battle, but begins losing when he puts his arms down to rest. Notice verse 12, "But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun." It's a great illustration! I can't count the number of sermons I've heard in my lifetime on this passage of scripture. Everybody needs an Aaron and a Hur. And the outcome? Need you ask?
Now you might wonder why it was necessary for Moses to hold his hands up for Israel to prevail in battle. It's simple really; it was a visible validation of Moses' leadership over the Hebrews. It was obviously done for the benefit of the Hebrews themselves. Add that to the long string of miracles God performed through Moses before Israel to prove to them God's ability to provide.
There are some sobering words from God regarding the Amalekites in verse 14, "I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." Verse 16 adds, "...the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." Israel did war with these Amalekites over the years until Saul destroys them in I Samuel 15 (see notes). David had a brief episode with a remnant of Amalekites in I Samuel 30 (see notes), but then they disappear...just as God had said. HEY! I'm not superstitious (it's bad luck to be superstitious), but let me say IT'S BEST FOR A NATION NOT TO BECOME ISRAEL'S ENEMY. God made a covenant with Abraham which was passed down through Isaac, Jacob and his descendants, Israel. One of the provisions of that covenant is found in Genesis 12:3 (see notes), " I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee." I am completely convinced that those nations which abuse Israel do so to their own peril. There is no indication in scripture that the promise of Genesis 12:3 has an expiration date. And that's why we see (to the surprise of many Jews) the overwhelming support of Israel by fundamental Christians today. We may not like everything they do, but who dares get at odds with a nation that is working under a God guarantee?
I should mention, however, that Jewish tradition attributes the ordeal of the Jews in the Book of Esther to a descendant of the Amalekites, Haman. In Esther 3:1 (see notes), he is introduced as "Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite." Jewish tradition believes that "Agagite" means that Haman was a descendant of King Agag of I Samuel 15 (see notes). You will recall that Saul destroyed the Amalekites there, but kept King Agag alive. When Samuel showed up, he expressed God's great disappointment with Saul at not complying with God's command; Samuel slew King Agag himself. In reality, we're not sure that "Agagite" means a descendant of King Agag in I Samuel 15. Nonetheless, when Jews celebrate the festival that arose out of the Book of Esther, Purim, they always read the story here in Exodus 17 as part of their celebration. They are convinced that Haman was one of these Amalekite descendants. In later Jewish tradition Amalek became the symbol for anti-semitism in general.
1 When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, AND THAT THE LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt;
2 Then Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her back,
3 And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land:
4 And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh:
5 And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God:
6 And he said unto Moses, I thy father in law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her.
7 And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent.
8 And Moses told his father in law all that the LORD had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the LORD delivered them.
9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.
10 And Jethro said, Blessed be the LORD, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.
11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.
12 And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father in law before God.
13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.
14 And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What IS this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?
15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God:
16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.
17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest IS not good.
18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.
19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:
20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.
21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.
23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee SO, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said.
25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.
27 And Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land.
Whoever said the Hebrews were lost? Jethro (aka Reuel), Moses' father-in-law, knew right where to find him there on the Sinai Peninsula. As a matter of fact, we see in this passage that Moses' wife and two sons had gone home to Dad until Moses could get everything on track. So here comes Jethro with Moses' family in tow, right back to the spot where Moses once kept Jethro's sheep - to the same spot where Moses saw the burning bush (Exodus 3:1, see notes) and talked with God.
Incidentally, Jethro's declaration in verse 11 seems to demonstrate that he was still a polytheist - believed in many gods when Jethro says, "Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them." On this visit, Jethro spends the day with Moses watching him judge between disputes among the Hebrews - all day long. Jethro puts his management degree to work; he suggests a new organizational structure to Moses that proves to significantly reduce the workload on Moses. For you organizational gurus, he goes from a flat organizational structure to a tall organizational structure. Additional details regarding this reorganization are found in Deuteronomy 1:9-18 (see notes) when Moses recalls it 40 years later. And after a short visit, Jethro goes home to Midian. Again, who says the Hebrews were lost? They weren't lost; they were following the pillar (cloud by day, fire by night) that God had given them for direction and had gone back to Horeb where Moses had talked to God in the burning bush. God is in the process of building a strong Hebrew nation here. They'll get to Canaan when God is ready for them to get to Canaan. Here's a lesson for Believers. Use the time God gives you to prepare wisely. Don't get impatient with God's training period. When you're ready, God will tell you you're ready.