Reading 20/341, Exodus 16-18

The Israelites complain that they have no food. Then God sends food on the ground each morning, but with rules. They have no water, so Moses commands water to come from a rock, but he is punished for not doing so exactly as instructed. Amalek comes and fights Israel, who win so long as Moses’ arms are held aloft. Moses’ father-in-law comes and advises him how to manage the people.
It is beautiful how the manna enforced its own law. Everyone had what they needed, no one could save any up, and they had to rest on the Sabbath.


They journeyed on from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after departing out of the land of Egypt. The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron in the desert, and the children of Israel said to them, "We wish that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt while we sat by the meat pots and ate our fill of bread, for you have brought us out into this desert to kill this whole assembly with hunger." Then the Lord said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from the sky for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. It shall come to pass on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily." Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, "At evening, you shall know that the Lord has brought you out from the land of Egypt, and in the morning, you shall see the glory of the Lord; because he hears your murmurings against the Lord. Who are we, that you murmur against us?" Moses said, "Now the Lord shall give you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to satisfy you, because the Lord hears your murmurings which you murmur against him. And who are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord."

Moses said to Aaron, "Tell all the congregation of the children of Israel, 'Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your murmurings.'" It happened, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel that they looked toward the desert, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, 'At evening you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread: thus you shall know that I am the Lord your God.'" It happened at evening that quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay around the camp. When the dew that lay had gone, behold, on the surface of the desert was a small round thing, small as the frost on the ground. When the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat." This is what the Lord has commanded: "Gather of it everyone according to his needs, an omer a head, according to the number of your persons, you shall take it, every man for those who are in his tent." The children of Israel did so, but some gathered more, and some less. When they measured it with an omer, he who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man gathered according to his needs. Moses said to them, "Let no one leave any of it until morning." Nevertheless they did not listen to Moses, but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms and became foul: and Moses was angry with them. They gathered it morning by morning, everyone according to his needs. When the sun grew hot, it melted.

It happened that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one, and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. He said to them, "This is what the Lord has spoken, 'Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you want to bake, and boil what you want to boil, and all that remains over lay up for yourselves to be kept until the morning.'" They laid it up until the morning, as Moses said, and it did not become foul, nor was there any worm in it. Moses said, "Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord. Today you shall not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath. In it there shall be none." It happened on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, and they found nothing. The Lord said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? Behold, because the Lord has given you the Sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days. Everyone stay in his place. Let no one go out of his place on the seventh day." So the people rested on the seventh day.

The house of Israel called it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey. Moses said, "This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, 'Let an omer-full of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the desert, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.'" Moses said to Aaron, "Take a pot, and put an omer-full of manna in it, and put it before the Lord, to be kept throughout your generations." As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron put it before the Testimony, to be kept. The children of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan. An omer is the tenth part of an ephah.

All the congregation of the children of Israel traveled from the desert of Sin, by their journeys, according to the Lord's commandment, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?" The people were thirsty for water there, and the people murmured against Moses and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt? To kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?" Moses cried to the Lord, saying, "What shall I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me. The Lord said to Moses, "Walk on before the people, and take the elders of Israel with you, and take the rod in your hand with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb. You shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because the children of Israel quarreled, and because they tested the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord among us or not?"

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, "Choose men for us, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with God's rod in my hand." So Joshua did as Moses had told him and fought with Amalek, and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. It happened, when Moses held up his hands that Israel prevailed, and when he let down his hands, Amalek prevailed, but Moses' hands were heavy, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side and the other on the other side. His hands were steady until sunset. Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. The Lord said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under the sky." Moses built an altar and called the name of it, “Lord our Banner”. He said, "A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.'"

Now Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, received Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her away, along with her two sons. The name of one son was Gershom, for Moses said, "I have lived as a foreigner in a foreign land." The name of the other was Eliezer, for he said, "My father's God was my help and delivered me from Pharaoh's sword." Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the desert where he was encamped, at the Mountain of God. He said to Moses, I, your father-in-law Jethro, have come to you with your wife, and her two sons with her. Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed and kissed him. They asked each about their welfare, and they went into the tent. Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the hardships that had come on them along the way, and how the Lord delivered them. Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. Jethro said, "Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods because in this case they dealt arrogantly against them." Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God. Aaron came with all of the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God.

The next day, Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from the morning to evening. When Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, "What is this thing that you do for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning to evening?" Moses said to his father-in-law, "Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a matter, they come to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws." Moses' father-in-law said to him, "The thing that you do is not good. You will surely wear away, both you and this people that is with you; for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to perform it yourself alone. Listen now to my voice. I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You represent the people before God and bring the causes to God. You shall teach them the statutes and the laws and shall show them the way in which they must walk and the work that they must do. Moreover you shall provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating unjust gain, and place them over the people, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. Let them judge the people at all times. In every great matter they shall bring it to you, but every small matter they shall judge themselves. So shall it be easier for you, and they shall share the load with you. If you will do this thing, and God commands you so, then you will be able to endure, and all of these people also will go to their place in peace." So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people: rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. They judged the people at all times. They brought the hard causes to Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went his way into his own land.

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