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.
1. Profectae autem ab Elim cunctae turmae filiorum Israel, venerunt in desertum Sin, quod est inter Elim et Sinai, quinto decimo die mensis secundi post eorum exitum e terra AEgypti.
2. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.
2. Et murmuraverunt omnes turmae filiorum Israel contra Mosen et contra Aharon in deserto.
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.
3. Et dixerunt ad eos filii Israel, Quis det ut mortui essemus per manum Jehovae in terra AEgypti, quando sedebamus juxta ollam carnis, et quando comedebamus panem in saturitate? Nam eduxistis nos in hoc desertum, ut interficeretis congregationem hanc fame.
4. Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate everyday, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
4. Tunc ait Jehova ad Mosen, Ecce, ego vobis pluam panem e coelo, et egredietur populus, et colligent summam diei die suo, ut probem eum, ambuletne in lege mea an non.
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.
5. In die autem sexto parabunt quod inferant, et erit duplum prae eo quod colligent quotidie.
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:
6. Et dixit Moses et Aharon ad universos filios Israel: Vespere scietis quod Jehova eduxerit vosa terra AEgypti.
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?
7. Mane autem videbitis gloriam Jehovae, quia audivit murmur vestrum contra Jehovam. Etenim nos quid sumus, ut murmuretis contra nos?
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.
8. Et dixit Moses, Quum dederit vobis Jehova vespere carnem ad comedendum et panem mane ad saturitatem, ex quo audivit Jehova murmurationes vestras, quibus murmurastis contra eum. Quid enim? non contra nos murmurastis sed contra Jehovam.
1. And they took their journey. Moses relates, that, when after a month the people came to the wilderness of Sin near Mount Sinai, and when their provision failed, they rebelled against God and Moses, and manna, a new and unusual kind of food, was given them from heaven. It is uncertain with what foods they were sustained in the meantime. Some conjecture that they brought sufficient flour from Egypt for their supply; but to me it seems probable that other kinds of food were used in addition; for the barrenness of the country through which they passed was not so great but that it produced at least fruits and herbs. Besides, we may readily suppose, from the battle, in which it will soon be related that they conquered the Amalekites, that they were not far from an habitable territory. But, when they were carried away farther into the desert, all their provision began to fail, because they had no more commerce with the inhabitants. Hence their sedition was increased, because hunger pressed upon them more than usual. For, although we shall afterwards be able to gather from the context that there was some previous disturbance in the camp, still famine, which now began to affect them more, because in these uncultivated and miserable regions the barrenness on all sides alarmed them, gave strength to their murmurs and impatience.
2. And the whole congregation. Moses says not that some of the people only murmured, but that they were all gathered into mobs as in a conspiracy, or, at any rate, as they were arranged by hundreds and thousands, that they murmured with one consent. Yet the universal term admits of exception; nor need we suppose that all to a man were comprehended in this impious rebellion. The best remedy for their hunger would have been to pray to God, whom they had found to be in all respects a bountiful Father, and whom they had heard to have wonderfully provided for their parents, when the Egyptians and inhabitants of Canaan were wasting with hunger in such rich and fertile places. If they had only been persuaded that the earth is made fertile by God's blessing, it would at the same time have occurred to them, that it is His peculiar office to feed the hungry, and immediately they would have directed their prayers to Him; now, their unbelief betrays itself in their turbulent clamor. It is indeed astonishing that wretched men, whom their necessity should have humiliated, rose insolently against God, and that their hunger, so far from bending their hearts to gentleness, was the very incentive of their arrogance. But this is too common with the wicked, (because they do not trust that God is reconciled to them,) to neglect prayer, and to cry out in confusion, to utter their curses, and to rush, like mad dogs, furiously here and there. This was the case of the Israelites in the wilderness of Sin. The want of all things, which presents itself to them, is an invitation to them from God, that they may feel His power, by which He created the world out of nothing, to be independent of all foreign assistance for the maintenance of mankind. But despair seizes upon their faithless minds, so that they reject His aid and beneficence. And not only so, but their malignity and ingratitude instigates them to quarrel with Moses; and this is the sum of their complaint, that they were dragged away from abundance of bread and meat, that they might perish in the desert of hunger. Therefore they call Moses and Aaron, by whose hand and means they had been delivered, their murderers.
4. Then said the Lord unto Moses. It is probable that Moses passes over much in silence, because it is not consistent that the insolence of the people was left without even a single word of chastisement. For, although God in His extraordinary kindness gave food to these depraved and wicked men, who were unworthy of the sunlight and the common air, still He was without doubt unwilling to foster their sin by His silence, and, whilst He pardoned their ingratitude, sharply reproved their forwardness. But Moses, passing over this, proceeds to a history especially worthy of narration, how God fed this wretched people with bread from heaven, when He made the manna to fall from the clouds like dew. I call it "the bread of heaven," with the Prophet, (Psalm 78:24,) who honors it with this magnificent title, and extols God's bounty towards His people, as if they had been admitted to the tables of angels. For St. Paul calls the manna "spiritual meat," (1 Corinthians 10:3,) in another sense, viz., because it was a type of the flesh of Christ, which feeds our minds unto the hope of eternal life. The Prophet, however, makes no allusion to that mystery, but alleges in this circumstance an accusation against the people, because they not only despised the food which springs from the earth, but also were disgusted with that bread, for which they saw the heavens in a manner opened. But on this point somewhat must be hereafter repeated. God now declares that He will give them daily their allowance, as it were, that in this way He may prove the obedience of His people. Though on this latter head interpreters are not agreed; for some understand it as if God, by kindly providing food for the Israelites, would bind them to obedience by His bounty; as though He should say, "I will try whether they are altogether intractable or submissive; for nothing shall be wanting to retain them in the way of duty." But others confine the meaning of the word to "their daily food;" for that this was the proof of their fear and reverence, that they should not desire more than was given them, but that they should he contented with their daily provision, and thus depend on the providence of God. The former sense pleases me best, and I have endeavored to explain it more clearly than it can be understood from others. There is no occasion to enter into controversy about the word "Law," 1 for (as we shall soon see) it is used to express the measure or rule of a pious and just life. Therefore, He says, that He will know whether they are disposed to honor Him, and to submit themselves to His command. But if any one prefer to embrace the other sense, I leave him to enjoy his own opinion.
5. And it shall come to pass. Because mention is immediately made of the Sabbath, some would confine to its observance what is said respecting the law, and extract this sense from it, that God made the experiment whether the people would faithfully observe the rest enjoined to them on each seventh day. But there is a poorness in this explanation. The fact is, that after God had promised daily supplies to His people, He now adds the exception, viz., that on the sixth day they should collect a double quantity, and lay aside half of it for the use of the Sabbath. Thus the seventh day was really hallowed before the promulgation of the Law, although it is questionable whether it had already been observed by the patriarchs. It appears probable that it was; but I am unwilling to make it a matter of contention.
6. And Moses and Aaron said. The statement that the people should know that their coming out of the land of Egypt was the Lord's work, is opposed to their wicked taunt, in which they had complained of being betrayed by Moses and Aaron, when they had been brought into the wilderness. They therefore answer, that God would openly show that He was the author of their deliverance, that they should make no more complaints against His ministers. But although a sharp reproof is implied, still it is joined with a promise of God's continued favor. They therefore admonish them, that by this event it would be proved that God was the Leader and Deliverer of the Israelites, because he does not leave the work of His hands unfinished. (Psalm 138:8.) The continuance, then, of His favor, shows that the same God, who proceeds in the prosecution of His powerful work, had from the first begun what He carries on even to the end. The knowledge, which they were to receive in the evening, refers to the quails, in which God gave an instance of His power; but, because it shone forth more brightly next day in the manna, Moses says, that in the morning they should see the glory of the Lord. But, lest they should be induced by this favor to think highly of themselves, and should flatter themselves in their iniquity, he reminds them that this was not given them in return for their sins, but that God contended after this manner with their obstinate perversity; as much as to say that God would appear to them, so that, beholding by the brightness of His countenance their own impiety, they might altogether be filled with shame, and feel the profaneness of the rebellion with which they had dared to insult Him. And, lest they should prevaricate, and say that they had only made an attack upon Moses and Aaron, he gives the reason why he declares them to have waged war against God Himself, viz., because neither he nor his brother had acted of themselves, nor had personally assumed anything in the matter; for this is the meaning of the words, "what are we, that ye murmur against us?" as if he disclaimed any separation from God. Now, since by this testimony he proves himself to have been a faithful servant; of God, we gather that none may rightly claim honor for themselves in the Church, so as to be accounted lawful pastors, but those who are divinely called, and thus have God. as the authorizer of their office, and who advance nothing of themselves, but only execute what is commanded them. Whilst such as these 2 may not be despised without dishonoring God, whose person they represent, so do they, who exercise dominion with no authority but their own, vainly alarm the simple in God's name, and 3 instead of the truth, are only wearing' an empty mask. The eighth verso merely contains an exposition of the same sentiment, except that he goes on to say in connection, that the Israelites, when in the evening they shall have been filled with flesh, and when bread shall have been given them in the morning, would perceive that God is their Deliverer. Then comes the antithesis, "Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord."