God sends special food
1 Then all the Israelites left Elim and they went into the desert called Sin. This is between Elim and Sinai. They arrived in the desert on the 15th day of the second month after they had left Egypt. 2 When they were in the desert, all the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, ‘It would have been better if the Lord had killed us in Egypt! There, we sat round pots with plenty of meat. We ate all the food that we wanted. But now you have brought us into this desert. We are so hungry that we will soon die!’
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will cause bread to fall down from the sky for you like rain. Each day, the people must go out and pick up enough bread for that day. In this way I will test them. I will discover whether they will obey my rules. 5 On the sixth day, they must pick up and prepare twice as much bread.’
6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, ‘In the evening, you will know who brought you out of Egypt. It was the Lord! 7 Then, in the morning, you will see how great the Lord is. The Lord has heard the bad things that you have said against him. We, Moses and Aaron, are the Lord's servants. So you are complaining against him, not against us!’
8 Moses said to them, ‘The Lord will give you meat to eat in the evening. And in the morning, he will give you all the bread that you want. He will do this because he has heard you when you complained against him. We are only his servants. You have said bad things against the Lord, not against us.’
9 Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Say to all the Israelites, “The Lord has heard the bad things that you have said against him. Now come together, and stand in front of him.” ’ 10 While Aaron spoke, the Israelites looked towards the desert. They saw the bright glory of the Lord which appeared in the cloud.
11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 ‘I have heard the bad things that the Israelites have said against me. Tell them this: “In the evening, you will eat meat. And in the morning you will eat all the bread that you want. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” ’
13 That evening, quails appeared. They covered all the ground round the tents.
16:13A quail is a small bird. The Israelites caught and killed the quails. Then they cooked and ate them.
In the morning, there was dew on the ground round the tents. 14 When the dew had gone, thin white pieces remained on the dry ground, there in the desert. It seemed like frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw these pieces, they said, ‘What is it?’ They did not understand what it was. But Moses said to them, ‘This is the bread that the Lord has given to you. It is for you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: “Each family must pick up as much as they need to eat. Pick up two litres for each person who lives in your tent.” ’
17 So the Israelites did this. Some of them picked up a lot of the food. Some of them picked up only a little food. 18 But when they measured the right amount, everyone had enough to eat. The person who had picked up a lot did not have too much. And the person who had picked up only a little food still had enough to eat. Each person had picked up what he needed.
19 Then Moses said to them, ‘Do not keep any of it until the morning.’ 20 But some of the people did not listen to Moses. They kept part of the food until the morning. But worms appeared in it, and it began to have a bad smell. Then Moses was angry with those people.
21 Each morning, everyone picked up as much food as they needed. But when the sun became hot, the food would melt away. 22 On the sixth day, the Israelites picked up twice as much food. They picked up four litres for each person. Then the leaders of the people told Moses what they had done. 23 Moses said to them, ‘This is what the Lord has said: “Tomorrow is a special day of rest. It is a Sabbath day, to worship the Lord. Today, you must bake any food that you want to bake. Boil the meat that you want to boil. Keep until the morning whatever food you do not eat today.” ’
24 So they kept some food until the morning, as Moses had said. This time, the food did not have a bad smell and there were no worms in it. 25 Moses said, ‘Eat the food today, because this day is a Sabbath day, to worship the Lord. You will not find any food on the ground today. 26 On six days of each week, you must pick food up from the ground. But on the seventh day of the week, there will not be any food on the ground. That is because the seventh day is the Sabbath day of rest.’
27 But on the seventh day, some of the people went out to pick up food. But they did not find any. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘The people continue to refuse to obey my commands. They refuse to do what I tell them! 29 Remember this: The Lord has given the Sabbath day to you. That is why, on the sixth day, he gives you enough food for two days. Then everyone must stay at home on the seventh day. Nobody must leave his home that day.’ 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
31 The Israelites called the special food ‘manna’. It was white, like seeds called coriander. When they tasted the manna, it was like thin pieces of bread with honey in it.
32 Moses said, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded: “Keep one bowl (an omer) of manna for people to look at in future times. They will see the bread that I fed to you in the desert, after I had brought you out of Egypt.” ’
33 So Moses said to Aaron, ‘Put an omer of manna into a jar. Then put the jar in the place where we worship the Lord. We must keep it safe, so that our descendants can see it in the future.’
34 Aaron did what the Lord had told Moses. He put the jar in the Covenant Box, to keep it safe.
16:34This happened at a later time. In Exodus 25:10, 16, we read that Moses made a special box called the Covenant Box. In the box he put the two stones on which God had written his ten special commands. After Moses had made the Covenant Box, Aaron put the jar of manna into it.
35 The Israelites ate the manna for 40 years, until they had finished their journey in the desert. After those 40 years, they arrived at the edge of Canaan.
36 (The people used omers to measure the food. Ten omers is equal to one ephah.)
16:36One omer was about two litres.