Exodus – Chapter 16: Manna and Quail

Our journey through Exodus continues.  God has ‘led’ Moses out of Egypt by hardening hearts and killing Egyptians.  Moses and the Israelites sang a song to praise the murderous God.  What’s next?  Exodus 16 begins with the Israelites walking through the desert on the verge of starvation.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.  On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.’ – Exodus 16:4-5

The Christian message here is to obey God and all will be okay.  Disobey God and you will suffer.  Yet God NEVER speaks to the people.  God only speaks to Moses.  If God was really interested in helping the people and having them obey Him, He would speak directly to the people so they are absolutely clear as to His meaning.  On top of that, what sort of test is this?  God sent the people into the desert.  They are starving and possibly delirious and not clear of thought.  God is going to use food on a starving person as a test?  Cruel.  It’s help with strings attached.  An all-loving, caring God would not do this.

“While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.” Exodus 16:10

In other words someone saw a shape of a head in the clouds and called it God.  It’s the biblical version of Jesus on toast.  🙂

“When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.  When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, ‘What is it? For they did not know what it was.  Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.” – Exodus 16:14-16

Scientifically impossible unless you’re willing to ignore the reality of the world.  We later learn an omer is one tenth of an ephah, whatever that’s worth.

“However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.” – Exodus 16:20

The people are starving.  I think one can forgive them for trying to stretch what they perceive as a one-time only food offering.  But not Moses.  Now, I will admit that maggots can develop in 24 hours, so the food being filled with maggots the next morning is not entirely unrealistic.

“Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away.” – Exodus 16:21

Melted away?  Did God rain down ice cream cones?  After this Moses warns the people to not gather food on the seventh day.  The seventh day is a day of rest.

“Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions?’” – Exodus 16:27-28

I get that the people disobeyed God’s command to rest on the seventh day, but God didn’t deliver that command in first person.  He delivered it through Moses, so the people should be given a bit of slack.  In addition, why is God always concerned with things like this and not concerned with more serious issues?  God allows the people to starve and be punished by the Egyptians and does nothing, but when the people collect bread on a day they shouldn’t, that’s when God puts his foot down.  This doesn’t sound like an all-knowing God.  If He was all-knowing, He’d know better.

There are a few other verses before the end of this chapter, but nothing of much importance.  The Israelites are now free of the Egyptians, but are starving in the desert.  God brings them food, but everything God provides always comes with strings attached.  A loving parent doesn’t attach strings to the love of their child.  The parent simply loves.  God doesn’t simply love.  He has many, many strings attached to His love.

Coming Soon:  Exodus – Chapter 17:  Water From the Rock

2 thoughts on “Exodus – Chapter 16: Manna and Quail

  1. Thanks for this interesting post! So, yes even as a former believer I would read the Exodus account, scratch my head, and have to wonder at the ultimate wisdom of this God. Some of the miracles are rather interesting and a little awe inspiring, others are just downright harsh and murderous. In our modern age there is something we’ve come to understand about human behavior, it can be strategically reformed and redirected with many valuable things that we’ve learned within Psychology and certain methods of counseling. This God didn’t really have any kind of strategy other than ruling with an iron fist. This in itself is characteristic of other surrounding gods of that region such as Baal. This whole account is propaganda for a Warrior God that wants to establish dominance in that region.


    1. When I was still a believer, I tossed these stories away as simply ‘stories’. Why I didn’t see the connection back then, I’ll never know. If the Bible is simply a set of stories, why then should I believe in it? It took me a while, but eventually I arrived at the truth.


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