Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Sin, after they had encamped on the Red Sea, Numbers xxxiii. 10. The 33d station was also in the desert of Sin, or Cades. But that is far remote from this desert, Numbers xx. 1. (Calmet) — Month of May, Jiar. Their provisions lasted a whole month. On their failure, they presently have recourse to murmurs.
Ver. 3. Over, greedily feasting on the most nutritive meats. (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Prove. Show by experience. Therefore he orders the Hebrews to gather manna only for one day, except on Friday. Many suppose that this bread of angels began to fall on Sunday, (ver. 22; Origen, hom. 7.) or on Friday. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Provide. Hence, this day was called Parasceve, or the day of preparation.
Ver. 7. Morning, when manna fell, as quails were brought the former evening, ver. 12 and 13. These fresh instances of protection, might convince them that they had not been imposed upon by Moses in leaving Egypt. (Menochius)
Ver. 8. Lord. All rebellion against lawful authority is resented by God. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 9. Before, to the place appointed for public worship, chap. xxxiii. 7. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. Say. Similar promises are often repeated, to appease the seditious mob. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Quails. All the Oriental languages express these birds by solaem, though some have asserted, that pheasants or locusts are here meant. Josephus (Antiquities iii. 1) informs us, that great flocks of quails are found about the gulph of Arabia. They return to Europe from the warmer regions, about the beginning of May, at which time God directed the course of vast multitudes to the camp of Israel. Hesychius says, the chennion, a smaller species of quails, was salted and dried, as the Hebrews did theirs, Numbers xi. 32. See Psalm lxxvii. 26. (Calmet) — Dew, upon which lay the miraculous bread, around the camp. None fell within, as the place was not sufficiently clean. (Menochius)
Ver. 15. Manhu. St. Jerome adds the explanation, (Du Hamel) which is almost universally adopted, though some pretend that man, even in Chaldean, means who, and not what? Calmet refers them to Psalm lx. 7, for a proof of the contrary. Manna is found in various parts of the world, the best in Arabia. But this was of a different nature, and wholly miraculous, falling every day, except Saturday, throughout the 40 years that the Hebrews dwelt in the desert. It melted with the heat of the sun, (ver. 21,) though it would bear the fire, and might be made into cakes, which cannot be done with the Arabian manna. It filled the mouth of God’s servants with the most delightful tastes, (Wisdom xvi. 20,) while the wicked were disgusted with it, Numbers xi. 6. — Our soul is dry, &c. It is called the bread of angels, being made or brought by their ministry, and of such a quality, that they would desire nothing better, if they stood in need of food. (Calmet) — Whatever a man gathered, he had only a gomor full, and this sufficed for young and old, sick and healthy; if any was kept over the night it became corrupt, except that which was reserved for Saturday, and that which was preserved in the ark for a memorial for several hundred years. (Worthington) — Yet this wonderful bread was only a figure of that which Jesus Christ promised to give, (St. John vi.) and as the figure must come beneath the reality, (Colossians. ii.) what we receive in the blessed Eucharist, must undoubtedly be something better than manna. Would Zuinglius and Calvin attempt then to persuade us, that Christ appointed their mere sacramental bread, to supersede and excel the favour of manna granted to the fathers, who are dead? Mere bread cannot stand in competition with this miraculous food. But the truth which it foreshewed, according to all the doctors of the Church, I mean the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, in the blessed sacrament, under the appearances of bread and wine, are surely more excellent than manna itself. It is miraculously brought upon our altars by the words of Jesus Christ, spoken by his priests at Mass, and dispensed to infinite multitudes, in the most distant places from each other, and even in the smallest particle. (Haydock) — It giveth grace in this life, and glory in the next, and this in proportion to each one’s disposition. To the wicked it may appear contemptible, but to the servants of God it is the most delightful and supersubstantial. (Worthington) — Button allows that the Protestant version of this verse “seems to make Moses guilty of a contradiction. It is manna, for they wist not what it was. But the Septuagint (he might add the Vulgate also) translate it according to the original.” (Haydock)
Ver. 18. Eat. Each one’s provision was just enough to fill a gomor; (Menochius) or those who had collected more, gave to those who wanted, 2 Corinthians viii. 15. Any one might take less. (Calmet)
Ver. 20. Putrified. So God was pleased to punish their diffidence in Providence. (Haydock)
Ver. 21. Morning. Wisdom xvi. 28, we find the reason of this ordinance, which enforces diligence, and was a constant admonition to bless God without delay. (Haydock) — It melted, that it might not be trodden under foot by the profane. (Menochius)
Ver. 22. Told Moses, wishing to know why God had given this injunction.
Ver. 29. Place. Onkelos allows a person to travel 2000 cubits on the sabbath. Some heretics understood this literally, and would not alter the posture in which they were found by the festival. (Origen, Philos. 1.)
Ver. 31. Manna. This miraculous food, with which the children of Israel were nourished and supported during their sojourning in the wilderness, was a figure of the bread of life, which we receive in the blessed sacrament, for the food and nourishment of our souls, during the time of our mortal pilgrimage, till we come to our eternal home, the true land of promise: where we shall keep an everlasting sabbath: and have no further need of sacraments. (Challoner) — Seed in size, but white; whereas the seed of coriander is black. (Menochius) — Samaritan, “like a grain of rice.” — Honey, or oil, Numbers xi. 8. (Calmet) — This was the usual taste. But if any one liked another better, the manna assumed it, Wisdom xvi. 20. (Menochius)
Ver. 33. A vessel, “a golden urn,” as the Septuagint and St. Paul (Hebrews ix. 4,) express it. This was placed in the tabernacle, where the Hebrews met to pray, till the ark was made. (Calmet)
Ver. 35. Land. Manna was withdrawn as soon as usual food could be easily procured. (Haydock) — In this desert of the world, we are supported by the sacraments. As manna fell in the night, so the mysteries of faith are concealed from the curious researches of men. It melted with the sun beams; so mysteries confound the idle attempts of those who would fathom their impenetrable depth. Those who ate manna died, but the worthy receiver of the blessed sacrament will live for ever. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The people murmur for want of meat: God giveth them quails and manna.
1 And they set forward from Elim, and all the multitude of the children of Israel came into the desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai: the fifteenth day of the second month, after they came out of the land of Egypt.*
2 And all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.
3 And the children of Israel said to them: Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat over the fleshpots, and ate bread to the full: Why have you brought us into this desert, that you might destroy all the multitude with famine?
4 And the Lord said to Moses: Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you; let the people go forth, and gather what is sufficient for every day: that I may prove them whether they will walk in my law, or not.
5 But the sixth day let them provide for to bring in: and let it be double to that they were wont to gather every day.
6 And Moses and Aaron said to the children of Israel: In the evening you shall know that the Lord hath brought you forth out of the land of Egypt:
7 And in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord: for he hath heard your murmuring against the Lord: but as for us, what are we, that you mutter against us?
8 And Moses said: In the evening the Lord will give you flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full: for he hath heard your murmurings, with which you have murmured against him, for what are we? your murmuring is not against us, but against the Lord.
9 Moses also said to Aaron: Say to the whole congregation of the children of Israel: Come before the Lord; for he hath heard your murmuring.
10 And when Aaron spoke to all the assembly of the children of Israel, they looked towards the wilderness;* and behold the glory of the Lord appeared in a cloud.
11 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
12 I have heard the murmuring of the children of Israel, say to them: In the evening you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.
13 So it came to pass in the evening, *that quails coming up, covered the camp: and in the morning a dew lay round about the camp.
14 And when it had covered the face of the earth, *it appeared in the wilderness small, and as it were beaten with a pestle, like unto the hoar-frost on the ground.
15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another: Manhu! which signifieth: What is this! for they knew not what it was. And Moses said to them: *This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.
16 This is the word that the Lord hath commanded: Let every one gather of it as much as is enough to eat; a gomor for every man, according to the number of your souls that dwell in a tent, so shall you take of it.
17 And the children of Israel did so: and they gathered, one more, another less.
18 And they measured by the measure of a gomor;* neither had he more that had gathered more: nor did he find less that had provided less: but every one had gathered, according to what they were able to eat.
19 And Moses said to them: Let no man leave thereof till the morning.
20 And they hearkened not to him, but some of them left until the morning, and it began to be full of worms, and it putrified, and Moses was angry with them.
21 Now every one of them gathered in the morning, as much as might suffice to eat: and after the sun grew hot, it melted.
22 But on the sixth day they gathered twice as much, that is, two gomors every man: and all the rulers of the multitude came, and told Moses.
23 And he said to them: This is what the Lord hath spoken: To-morrow is the rest of the sabbath sanctified to the Lord. Whatsoever work is to be done, do it; and the meats that are to be dressed, dress them; and whatsoever shall remain, lay it up until the morning.
24 And they did so as Moses had commanded, and it did not putrify, neither was there worm found in it.
25 And Moses said: Eat it to-day, because it is the sabbath of the Lord: to-day it shall not be found in the field.
26 Gather it six days; but on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, therefore it shall not be found.
27 And the seventh day came; and some of the people going forth to gather, found none.
28 And the Lord said to Moses: How long will you refuse to keep my commandments, and my law?
29 See that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, and for this reason on the sixth day he giveth you a double provision: let each man stay at home, and let none go forth out of his place the seventh day.
30 And the people kept the sabbath 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 thereof like to flour with honey.
32 And Moses said: This is the word which the Lord hath commanded: Fill a gomor of it, and let it be kept unto generations to come hereafter; that they may know the bread, wherewith I fed you in the wilderness, when you were brought forth out of the land of Egypt.
33 And Moses said to Aaron: Take a vessel, and put manna into it, as much as a gomor can hold; and lay it up before the Lord, to keep unto your generations,
34 As the Lord commanded Moses. And Aaron put it in the tabernacle to be kept.
35 *And the children of Israel ate manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land: with this meat were they fed, until they reached the borders of the land of Chanaan.
36 Now a gomor is the tenth part of an ephi.
1: Wisdom xi. 2. — ** Year of the World 2513.
10: Ecclesiasticus xlv. 3.
13: Numbers xi. 31.
14: Exodus xvi. 20.; Numbers xi. 7.; Psalm lxxvii. 24.; John vi. 31.
15: 1 Corinthians x. 3.
18: 2 Corinthians viii. 15.
35: 2 Esdras ix. 21.; Judith v. 15.