EXODUS ch. 16 – 18

 

Chapter 16

1 Having set out from Elim, the whole Israelite community came into the desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt. 2 Here in the desert the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “Would that we had died at the LORD’S hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!” 4

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not. 5 On the sixth day, however, when they prepare what they bring in, let it be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” 6 So Moses and Aaron told all the Israelites, “At evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt; 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, as he heeds your grumbling against him. But what are we that you should grumble against us? 8

When the LORD gives you flesh to eat in the evening,” continued Moses, “and in the morning your fill of bread, as he heeds the grumbling you utter against him, what then are we? Your grumbling is not against us, but against the LORD.” 9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole Israelite community: Present yourselves before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.” 10 When Aaron announced this to the whole Israelite community, they turned toward the desert, and lo, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud! 11

The LORD spoke to Moses and said, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.” 13 In the evening quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning a dew lay all about the camp, 14 and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. 15 On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?” for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, “This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. 16

“Now, this is what the LORD has commanded. So gather it that everyone has enough to eat, an omer for each person, as many of you as there are, each man providing for those of his own tent.” 17 The Israelites did so. Some gathered a large and some a small amount. 18 But when they measured it out by the omer, he who had gathered a large amount did not have too much, and he who had gathered a small amount did not have too little. They so gathered that everyone had enough to eat. 19

Moses also told them, “Let no one keep any of it over until tomorrow morning.” 20 But they would not listen to him. When some kept a part of it over until the following morning, it became wormy and rotten. Therefore Moses was displeased with them. 21 Morning after morning they gathered it, till each had enough to eat; but when the sun grew hot, the manna melted away. 22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, two omers for each person. When all the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses, 23 he told them, “That is what the LORD prescribed. Tomorrow is a day of complete rest, the sabbath, sacred to the LORD. You may either bake or boil the manna, as you please; but whatever is left put away and keep for the morrow.” 24

When they put it away for the morrow, as Moses commanded, it did not become rotten or wormy. 25 Moses then said, “Eat it today, for today is the sabbath of the LORD. On this day you will not find any of it on the ground. 26 On the other six days you can gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, none of it will be there.” 27 Still, on the seventh day some of the people went out to gather it, although they did not find any. 28

Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and laws? 29 Take note! The LORD has given you the sabbath. That is why on the sixth day he gives you food for two days. On the seventh day everyone is to stay home and no one is to go out.” 30 After that the people rested on the seventh day. 31 The Israelites called this food manna. It was like coriander seed, but white, and it tasted like wafers made with honey. 32  

Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded. Keep an omerful of manna for your descendants, that they may see what food I gave you to eat in the desert when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.” 33 Moses then told Aaron, “Take an urn and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD in safekeeping for your descendants.” 34 So Aaron placed it in front of the commandments for safekeeping, as the LORD had commanded Moses. 35 The Israelites ate this manna for forty years, until they came to settled land; they ate manna until they reached the borders of Canaan. 36 (An omer is one tenth of an ephah.)

 

Chapter 17

1 From the desert of Sin the whole Israelite community journeyed by stages, as the LORD directed, and encamped at Rephidim. Here there was no water for the people to drink. 2 They quarreled, therefore, with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to a test?” 3 Here, then, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?” 4  

So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? A little more and they will stone me!” 5 The LORD answered Moses, “Go over there in front of the people, along with some of the elders of Israel, holding in your hand, as you go, the staff with which you struck the river. 6 I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb. Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it for the people to drink.” This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel. 7 The place was called Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled there and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD in our midst or not?” 8

At Rephidim, Amalek came and waged war against Israel. 9 Moses, therefore, said to Joshua, “Pick out certain men, and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle. I will be standing on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses told him: he engaged Amalek in battle after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur. 11 As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight. 12

Moses’ hands, however, grew tired; so they put a rock in place for him to sit on. Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this down in a document as something to be remembered, and recite it in the ears of Joshua: I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens.” 15 Moses also built an altar there, which he called Yahweh-nissi; 16 for he said, “The LORD takes in hand his banner; the LORD will war against Amalek through the centuries.”

 

Chapter 18

1 Now Moses’ father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel: how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2 So his father-in-law Jethro took along Zipporah, Moses’ wife, whom Moses had sent back to him, 3 and her two sons. One of these was called Gershom; for he said, “I am a stranger in a foreign land.” 4 The other was called Eliezer; for he said, “My father’s God is my helper; he has rescued me from Pharaoh’s sword.” 5

Together with Moses’ wife and sons, then, his father-in-law Jethro came to him in the desert where he was encamped near the mountain of God, 6 and he sent word to Moses, “I, Jethro, your father-in-law, am coming to you, along with your wife and her two sons.” 7 Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, bowed down before him, and kissed him. Having greeted each other, they went into the tent. 8 Moses then told his father-in-law of all that the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for the sake of Israel, and of all the hardships they had had to endure on their journey, and how the LORD had come to their rescue. 9

Jethro rejoiced over all the goodness that the LORD had shown Israel in rescuing them from the hands of the Egyptians. 10 “Blessed be the LORD,” he said, “who has rescued his people from the hands of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is a deity great beyond any other; for he took occasion of their being dealt with insolently to deliver the people from the power of the Egyptians.” 12 Then Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, brought a holocaust and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to participate with Moses’ father-in-law in the meal before God. 13

 

The next day Moses sat in judgment for the people, who waited about him from morning until evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he inquired, “What sort of thing is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone while all the people have to stand about you from morning till evening?” 15 Moses answered his father-in-law, “The people come to me to consult God. 16 Whenever they have a disagreement, they come to me to have me settle the matter between them and make known to them God’s decisions and regulations.” 17

“You are not acting wisely,” his father-in-law replied. 18 “You will surely wear yourself out, and not only yourself but also these people with you. The task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 19 Now, listen to me, and I will give you some advice, that God may be with you. Act as the people’s representative before God, bringing to him whatever they have to say. 20 Enlighten them in regard to the decisions and regulations, showing them how they are to live and what they are to do. 21

But you should also look among all the people for able and God-fearing men, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain, and set them as officers over groups of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 Let these men render decisions for the people in all ordinary cases. More important cases they should refer to you, but all the lesser cases they can settle themselves. Thus, your burden will be lightened, since they will bear it with you. 23 If you do this, when God gives you orders you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” 24

Moses followed the advice of his father-in-law and did all that he had suggested. 25 He picked out able men from all Israel and put them in charge of the people as officers over groups of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 26 They rendered decisions for the people in all ordinary cases. The more difficult cases they referred to Moses, but all the lesser cases they settled themselves. 27 Then Moses bade farewell to his father-in-law, who went off to his own country.  

 

 

 

VIDEO NOTES

This talk is by Msgr. David LiSieur.

Shawshank Rebellion.  Longing for the past, even if not free.

Exod. 16:3  “Would that we had died at the LORD’S hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!

Exodus teaches us that God leads people into freedom and cares for them through the uncertainties of their journey.

Nostalgia: an aching desire to return to the past, to go back home.  But now they are to have a new home.  They are hungry and thirsty,

“Is the LORD in our midst or not?”  Do we trust God or not?

Manna and quail are found in the desert, naturally.  Manna excreted by the tamarind plant, can be baked into a kind of bread.

Faith is tested in the crucible of trial and grows on the cutting edge of difficulty.

Why are the people told not to hoard the manna or gather more than they could use each day?   A test in their faith in God’s providence.  Will God remember us and our needs?   “Give us this day our daily bread.”

The Sabbath rest is essentially an act of faith.  We can trust God so much that we can spend the day not doing what we normally do the other six days of the week.

Meaning of the manna itself and for us Christians?  Bread of Life discourse in John ch. 6

John 6:31  “Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

John 6:32  “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.”

John 6:48-50 “I am the bread of life.  Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.”

John 6:51:  “Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Natural hunger / deeper spiritual hunger

John 6:55, 58  “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink ….  Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Only God can satisfy our deeper spiritual hunger.

 

 

Jesus teaches people what he has heard from the Father.  He feeds them with his body and blood in the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine.

Jesus as the vine and we are the branches.  John chapter 15

Exodus 17:2  “Why do you quarrel with me?  Why do you put the LORD to a test?”

It appears to be a case of “what have you done for me lately?”

Exodus 17:7  “Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

Massah   “the place of the test”

Meribah   “the place of strife”

 

Psalm 95:9, 10 “There your ancestors tested me; they tried me though they had seen my works.  I said, “this people’s heart goes astray; they do not know my ways.”

Amalek and his army battle with Israel in the desert.  While Moses holds his staff aloft Israel wins, when it drops Israel loses.  Israel learning that it takes their active cooperation with God to make things happen.  Sometimes God works through nature.

Chapter 18 brings back Jethro, Zipporah and the 2 sons of Moses.  Jethro hears what God has done for Israel, offers a sacrifice to the LORD.

Now – how to live together in the desert.  Moses tries to handle all the problems himself.  Jethro points out :  Exodus 18:18  “You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you.”

Exodus lessons:

  • God sets us free from our basic slavery to sin through the waters of baptism; we then must respond
  • God is with us and the community of believers is behind us with hands lifted in prayer on our behalf.
  • God will somehow supply the bread and drink we need.
  • Ask the LORD to send us a Jethro, a wisdom figure, a spiritual advisor.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

Chapter 16

Fretheim p. 181: “The text is clearly composite, evident particularly in verses 4-12.  (Peter – note the repetition.)   Its focus has to do with a food crisis, which leads to a faith crisis.  The lack of discernment of God’s presence in the ordinary leads to a denial of God’s activity in the extraordinary.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not. 5 On the sixth day, however, when they prepare what they bring in, let it be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” 6 So Moses and Aaron told all the Israelites, “At evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt; 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, as he heeds your grumbling against him. But what are we that you should grumble against us? 8

When the LORD gives you flesh to eat in the evening,” continued Moses, “and in the morning your fill of bread, as he heeds the grumbling you utter against him, what then are we? Your grumbling is not against us, but against the LORD.” 9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole Israelite community: Present yourselves before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.” 10 When Aaron announced this to the whole Israelite community, they turned toward the desert, and lo, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud! 11

The LORD spoke to Moses and said, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.”

Fretheim p. 181: the natural world itself is a gift from God.  If we see God only in the exceptional cases / experiences then we will eventually find God absent from our lives.

Stuart p. 372: “In other words, the people’s willingness to obey the manna-gathering law (torah) would show God whether or not they would be inclined to keep his covenant law (torah) as revealed at Mount Sinai.  It was not just a test to see if they could follow instructions but a test to see if their hearts were inclined to be his covenant people.  The test itself required faith for an agricultural people.”   Since land / animals don’t produce food every day farmers know to harvest and keep some for tomorrow in case.

God gives them natural things, works through nature, not outside it.

Fretheim p. 185: Sabbath laws are given before Sinai – Sabbath was a part of creation, given to all people, not just Jews.  So basic a part of rhythm of life that to violate it was serious sin.  A day of rest not worship.  “A time for rest, but not at the expense of daily needs.”   Fretheim p. 186: “Sabbath rest stands opposed to all oppressive systems, insisting on regularly timed days of

 

rest for all, but providing for the needs of the day.  Moses tells the people to enjoy a sabbath meal (v.25).  The sabbath is a day of rest from work, not from enjoyment of what God provides.”

Tradition that the law was given gradually and then fully on Sinai.

7th plague rained down hail which destroyed the crops, here ‘rain’ brings food to eat.

 

Chapter 17

They are indeed a stubborn people but is this something we all share?    Metaphor for the life of faith – on a journey, God’s actions in past and goal in future and our loss of confidence.

Fretheim p. 187  “These wilderness stories are increasingly about a people stuck between promise and fulfillment.  Wilderness is no longer simply a place but a state of mind.  Even more, it is a typology for the life of faith.  The direct allusion to Sinai in verse 6 points to the fact that Sinai too is in the middle of the wilderness.  The law to be given at Sinai is also for life on the move.  For the law to be given in the middle of a long journey says something both about the people and law.”

Fretheim p. 191: “One has to move between ‘rationalization’ on the one hand and supernaturalism on the other – it is no less a wonder thereby.  God is here not creating out of nothing; water does not materialize out of thin air.  God works in and through the natural to provide blessings for people.  The rock plays an indispensable role.  Moreover, God stands on the rock.  It is God who ‘subdues’ the earth (Gen. 1:28).  Water in the wilderness is certainly for the benefit of the people; but it is also for the benefit of nature.  The effects of God’s creational activity are cosmic in scope.”

gesture of prayer ? or magic ? or sign of God’s presence and reminder to them which then gives them confidence?

Fretheim p. 193  (the staff of Moses) “It is a realistic symbol of the power of God at work in the situation; yet God’s power is not electrically conceived either.  This suggests a symbiotic relationship between people and staff (whose value would be well established), such that the clearly significant human efforts are affected by the sight of the staff.  It assures them, not only of God’s active hand in the battle, but of Moses’ confidence that God is so involved.”

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart p. 395ff

Twelve rules for ‘holy war’  Deut. 20:1-20

  1. No standing army was allowed.
  2. No pay for soldiers was permitted.
  3. No personal spoil/plunder could be taken.
  4. Could only be fought for the conquest of or defense of the promised land.
  5. Only at the LORD’s call / command could war be launched.
  6. Only a prophet could pronounce God’s call to war.
  7. The LORD did the real fighting
  8. Holy war also involved fasting, abstinence from sex, self-denial.  A religious activity
  9. A goal was the total destruction of the other / evil culture.
  10. One who violated these rules became the enemy.
  11. Exceptions and mutations to these rules was possible.
  12. Decisive rapid victory characterized a true holy war

 

Chapter 18

Note they are now at Sinai / Horeb, important for coming chapters.

Collaboration, discernment, some reliance on their own experiences, sharing ministry, hierarchy.

Fretheim p. 195: “Exodus 18, a unified story, witnesses to the two central aspects of what it means to be the people of God: faith and law.  Verses 1-12 focus on the declaration and confession of what God has done for Israel.  Verses 13-27 center on community structures that give shape to the life of faith.

Fretheim p. 197: “God’s redemptive activity does not respond to Israel’s every need.  Those who have experienced the salvation of God are not thereby given an answer to all the issues or problems faced by their community.  They are indeed freed from bondage, but freedom brings with it new opportunities and responsibilities.”

Fretheim p. 199: “Jethro exudes the kind of confidence in his own plan that it will in fact be in tune with God’s own will for the situation.  Wise discernment of what seems prudent in this situation is believed to be just as much the will of God as a specific divine verbal communication.  One should probably assume a ‘it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us’ approach to the matter.”

The Law does not have to cover everything – the community discerns over time (before and after) what ‘works’, what is in tune with God’s will.   (Tradition vs. tradition)?

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