Exodus 16:1-16:36 Omer Pile

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Abstract: What is God teaching us by how He provides? Why do we not learn? Click “Read More” for details.

Exodus 16:1-16:36

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.

A long trip (naca`) into a desolate (midbar) place. No wonder Jacob’s kids (ben) start their equivalent of whining (luwn) “Are we there yet*”

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

Though they’re asking for a bit more than a pit stop:

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.

Now, on the one hand this seems awfully ungrateful, especially given last chapter’s test (nacah) of the bitter water. Then again, they are stranded in the middle of nowhere without any imaginable way to get food. I know I certainly get cranky when my blood sugar drops, so I can only imagine their state of mind.

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.

Divine intervention! Presumably Moses heard the rumblings, and cried out to God, who answered. Though again with a test (nacah):

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.

Moses puts out the word, again framing it in the context of knowing (yada`) Yahweh (Y@hovah).

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:

Which leads to the significant point that there is no point in grumbling against him and Aaron:

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?

That, in fact, they were really murmuring against Yahweh:

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.

Moses seems to be really hammering this point home. Its a sobering statement. As noted yesterday, I often find myself frustrated with human leaders (especially clerical and political). But is that ultimately a sign that I lack faith in God’s sovereignty and provision?

Interesting, Moses response is to call the people to assemble (`edah) before (paniym) the Lord (or perhaps vice versa):

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.

As far as I can tell, this is the first time God manifests (ra’ah) before the whole people:

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.

Though He still speaks only to Moses:

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,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.

And as He spoke, so it occurs:

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. 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.

Quail (s@lav) they recognized, but who knows what (man) this freaky thing (chacpac) is?

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.

It is often difficult to recognize God’s gifts (nathan), especially when unlike anything we’ve seen before. The important thing is to receive (laqat) it, even if we don’t understand:

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.

Interesting how the husbands (‘iysh) are still responsible for bringing home enough bread for each headcount (gulgoleth) among their people (nephesh). The fact that God provides does not eliminate, and may even increase, the significance of our role as breadwinners!

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

For once, they actually do as they’re told.

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.

Hmm, a strange outcome. I wonder if the omer back then was like the original cubit, in terms of being relative to the size of a person’s body. Or perhaps it just shows how God takes care of us despite our unequal achievements.

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

Well, that streak of obedience was short-lived. I guess it is only human nature to try to store up today’s blessing against future need, rather than being willing to take one day at a time. But I suppose it still stinks (ba’ash) and irks (qatsaph) God as much now as it did Moses then.

What’s fascinating is that the reverse is true before Saturday (shabbath):

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. 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.

Funny how what’s self-destructive greed at one time is prudent obedience at another. I suspect the difference is whether we are storing up for God, or ourselves. This also gives God a chance to show it is a genuine miracle, not just a random coincidence:

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

How ’bout that! Of course, not everyone has gotten with the program:

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

Some people just never seem to get it, do they?

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

I have to remind myself that they didn’t yet have the formal Ten Commandments (mitsvah). Yet God had already started instituting certain rituals and observances, presumably both to bind people to Him as well as to bless them. After all, doesn’t everybody need a rest (shabath)?

So the people rested on the seventh day.

The people apparently give up and just call this strange bread “whats-it” (man):

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.

Its not just basic C rations — it sounds like it would taste (ta’am) good too!

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.

Good idea. What seems like an overwhelming blessing now can easily be forgotten generations (dowr) down the line. Even one that lasts forty years:

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.

Prayer

God, thank you for the marvelous ways you provide for me. Teach me to trust in your ability to care for my needs, and to recognize your blessing when it appears. Help me to receive each day’s blessing, and not grow fearful about tomorrow — yet also to prepare wisely when appropriate. Most of all, may I store up memories of your gracious provision that I never forget your goodness to me. In Jesus name, Amen.

About the Title:

Today’s title is homage to the show Gomer Pyle, which I grew up with. Shazam!

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