Manna and Quail from Heaven
1Then they left Elim and journeyed into the Sin F18 Desert, between Elim and Mount Sinai. They arrived there a month after leaving Egypt. F19 2There, too, the whole community of Israel spoke bitterly against Moses and Aaron.
3"Oh, that we were back in Egypt," they moaned. "It would have been better if the LORD had killed us there! At least there we had plenty to eat. But now you have brought us into this desert to starve us to death."
4Then the LORD said to Moses, "Look, I'm going to rain down food from heaven for you. The people can go out each day and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether they will follow my instructions. 5Tell them to pick up twice as much as usual on the sixth day of each week."
6Then Moses and Aaron called a meeting of all the people of Israel and told them, "In the evening you will realize that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 7In the morning you will see the glorious presence of the LORD. He has heard your complaints, which are against the LORD and not against us. 8The LORD will give you meat to eat in the evening and bread in the morning, for he has heard all your complaints against him. Yes, your complaints are against the LORD, not against us."
9Then Moses said to Aaron, "Say this to the entire community of Israel: 'Come into the LORD's presence, and hear his reply to your complaints.'" 10And as Aaron spoke to the people, they looked out toward the desert. Within the guiding cloud, they could see the awesome glory of the LORD.
11And the LORD said to Moses, 12"I have heard the people's complaints. Now tell them, 'In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.'"
13That evening vast numbers of quail arrived and covered the camp. The next morning the desert all around the camp was wet with dew. 14When the dew disappeared later in the morning, thin flakes, white like frost, covered the ground. 15The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. "What is it?" they asked. And Moses told them, "It is the food the LORD has given you. 16The LORD says that each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts F20 for each person."
17So the people of Israel went out and gathered this food—some getting more, and some getting less. 18By gathering two quarts for each person, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed.
19Then Moses told them, "Do not keep any of it overnight." 20But, of course, some of them didn't listen and kept some of it until morning. By then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. And Moses was very angry with them.
21The people gathered the food morning by morning, each family according to its need. And as the sun became hot, the food they had not picked up melted and disappeared. 22On the sixth day, there was twice as much as usual on the ground—four quarts F21 for each person instead of two. The leaders of the people came and asked Moses why this had happened. 23He replied, "The LORD has appointed tomorrow as a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. On this day we will rest from our normal daily tasks. So bake or boil as much as you want today, and set aside what is left for tomorrow."
24The next morning the leftover food was wholesome and good, without maggots or odor. 25Moses said, "This is your food for today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD. There will be no food on the ground today. 26Gather the food for six days, but the seventh day is a Sabbath. There will be no food on the ground for you on that day."
27Some of the people went out anyway to gather food, even though it was the Sabbath day. But there was none to be found. 28"How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions?" the LORD asked Moses. 29"Do they not realize that I have given them the seventh day, the Sabbath, as a day of rest? That is why I give you twice as much food on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must stay in your places. Do not pick up food from the ground on that day." 30So the people rested on the seventh day.
31In time, the food became known as manna. F22 It was white like coriander seed, and it tasted like honey cakes.
32Then Moses gave them this command from the LORD: "Take two quarts of manna and keep it forever as a treasured memorial of the LORD's provision. By doing this, later generations will be able to see the bread that the LORD provided in the wilderness when he brought you out of Egypt."
33Moses said to Aaron, "Get a container and put two quarts of manna into it. Then store it in a sacred place F23 as a reminder for all future generations." 34Aaron did this, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. He eventually placed it for safekeeping in the Ark of the Covenant. F24 35So the people of Israel ate manna for forty years until they arrived in the land of Canaan, where there were crops to eat.
36(The container used to measure the manna was an omer, which held about two quarts.) F25
F18: Not to be confused with the English word sin.
F19: Hebrew on the fifteenth day of the second month. The Exodus had occurred on the fourteenth day of the first month (see 12:6).
F20: Hebrew 1 omer [2 liters]; also in 16:18, 32, 33.
F21: Hebrew 2 omers [4 liters].
F22: Manna means "What is it?" See 16:15.
F23: Hebrew before the LORD.
F24: Hebrew in front of the Testimony.
F25: Hebrew An omer is one tenth of an ephah.