There were over 600,000 men of fighting age. This does not include women, children, older men. So we can safely say that 1-4 million people left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea. They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because when they sent spies into the Promised Land, the spies came back with stories that the inhabitants were too much for the Israelites to conquer and they were afraid. They didn't trust God to go before them so God let them wander in the wilderness until that generation died out. The next generation would follow God and take the Promised Land.
Exodus 23:31 “I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you."
As you can see, Israel today only has a toe-hold in the Middle East, a sliver of the land promised. But the other Middle Eastern countries around them don't want them to have even that.
Here is a map showing the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness.
The Israelites had been in Egypt for 400 years. They had evenutally been enslaved and treated harshly because they proliferated so much that the Egyptians began to be afraid of them. They were having too many babies and the Israelite population was growing exponentially.
After they crossed the Red Sea, they complained 3 times on the way to Mt. Sinai:
1) About the bitter waters of Marah.
Exodus 15:22-27 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) After the Israelites left the Red Sea, Moses led them through the Shur Desert for three days, before finding water. (23) They did find water at Marah, but it was bitter, which is how that place got its name. (24) The people complained and said, "Moses, what are we going to drink?" (25) Moses asked the LORD for help, and the LORD told him to throw a piece of wood into the water. Moses did so, and the water became fit to drink. At Marah the LORD tested his people and also gave them some laws and teachings. (26) Then he said, "I am the LORD your God, and I cure your diseases. If you obey me by doing right and by following my laws and teachings, I won't punish you with the diseases I sent on the Egyptians." (27) Later the Israelites came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees. So they camped there.
2) About the lack of food in the Desert of Sin (Exodus 16)
3) About having no water at Rephidim
Exodus 17:1-7 (CEV) The Israelites left the desert and moved from one place to another each time the LORD ordered them to. Once they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for them to drink. (2)The people started complaining to Moses, "Give us some water!" Moses replied, "Why are you complaining to me and trying to put the LORD to the test?" (3) But the people were thirsty and kept on complaining, "Moses, did you bring us out of Egypt just to let us and our families and our animals die of thirst?" (4) Then Moses prayed to the LORD, "What am I going to do with these people? They are about to stone me to death!" (5) The LORD answered, "Take some of the leaders with you and go ahead of the rest of the people. Also take along the walking stick you used to strike the Nile River, (6) and when you get to the rock at Mount Sinai, I will be there with you. Strike the rock with the stick, and water will pour out for the people to drink." Moses did this while the leaders watched. (7) The people had complained and tested the LORD by asking, "Is the LORD really with us?" So Moses named that place Massah, which means "testing" and Meribah, which means "complaining."
We are concerned about the 2nd time they complained so let's read Exodus 16:
Exodus 16:1 (Easy To Read Version - ERV) Then all the Israelites left Elim. They reached the western Sinai desert, between Elim and Mount Sinai, on the 15th day of the second month after leaving Egypt.
Exodus 16:1 (King James Version - KJV) 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.
Exodus 16:2-36 (Easy To Read Version - ERV) (2) Then the whole community of Israelites began complaining again. They complained to Moses and Aaron in the desert. (3) They said, "It would have been better if the LORD had just killed us in the land of Egypt. At least there we had plenty to eat. We had all the food we needed. But now you have brought us out here into this desert to make us all die from hunger." (4) Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will cause food to fall from the sky. This food will be for you to eat. Every day the people should go out and gather the food they need that day. I will do this to see if they will do what I tell them. (5) Every day the people will gather only enough food for one day. But on Friday, when the people prepare their food, they will see that they have enough food for two days." (6) So Moses and Aaron said to the Israelites, "Tonight you will see the power of the LORD. You will know that he is the one who brought you out of Egypt. (7) You have been complaining about the LORD, and he heard you. So tomorrow morning you will see the Glory of the LORD. You have been complaining and complaining about us. Maybe now we can have a little rest." (8) Then Moses said, "In the evening the LORD will give you meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. The LORD will do this because he has heard your complaining, which was against him, not us. What can we do? We do only what he tells us to do, so your complaints are really against the LORD." (9) Then Moses said to Aaron, "Tell the whole community of Israelites to come together before the LORD, because he has heard their complaints." (10) So Aaron spoke to all the Israelites. While he was talking, the people turned and looked into the desert. And they saw the Glory of the LORD appear in a cloud. (11) The LORD said to Moses, (12) "I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. So tell them, 'Tonight you will eat meat. And in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know you can trust the LORD, your God.'" (13) That night, quails (birds) came all around the camp, and in the morning dew lay on the ground near the camp. (14) After the dew was gone, something like thin flakes of frost was on the ground. (15) When the Israelites saw it, they asked each other, "What is that?" because they did not know what it was. So Moses told them, "This is the food the LORD is giving you to eat. (16) The LORD says, 'Each of you should gather what you need, a basket of manna for everyone in your family.'" (17) So that is what the Israelites did. Some people gathered a large amount, some people gathered a little. (18) But when they measured what they had gathered, there was no shortage and there was none left over. Everyone gathered just what they needed. (19) Moses told them, "Don't save that food to eat the next day." (20) But some of the people did not obey Moses. They saved their food for the next day. But worms got into the food and it began to stink. Moses was angry with the people who did this. 21) Every morning the people gathered as much food as they could eat, but by noon the food melted and was gone. (22) On Friday the people gathered twice as much food—two baskets for every person. So all the leaders of the people came and told this to Moses. (23) Moses told them, "This is what the LORD said would happen. It happened because tomorrow is the Sabbath, the special day of rest to honor the LORD. You can cook all the food you need to cook for today, but save the rest of this food for tomorrow morning." (24) So the people saved the rest of the food for the next day, as Moses had commanded, and none of the food spoiled or had worms in it. (25) On Saturday, Moses told the people, "Today is the Sabbath, the special day of rest to honor the LORD. So none of you should be out in the fields. Eat the food you gathered yesterday. (26) You should gather the food for six days. But the seventh day of the week is a day of rest—so there will not be any of the special food on the ground." (27) On Saturday, some of the people went out to gather some of the food, but they could not find any. (28) Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long will you people refuse to obey my commands and teachings? (29) Look, the LORD has made the Sabbath a day of rest for you. So on Friday he will give you enough food for two days. Then, on the Sabbath, each of you should sit down and relax. Stay where you are." (30) So the people rested on the Sabbath. (31) The people called the special food "manna." It was like small white coriander seeds and tasted like thin cakes made with honey. (32) Moses told the people what the LORD said: "Save a basket of this food for your descendants. Then they can see the food that I gave to you in the desert when I took you out of Egypt." (33) So Moses told Aaron, "Take a jar and fill it with a full basket of manna. Save this manna to put before the LORD. Save it for our descendants." (34) (Aaron did what the LORD had commanded Moses. Aaron put the jar of manna in front of the Box of the Agreement.) (35) The people ate the manna for 40 years, until they came to the land of rest, that is, until they came to the edge of the land of Canaan. (36) (The measure they used for the manna was an omer. An omer was about 8 cups.)
Numbers 11:4-8 (CEV) One day some worthless foreigners among the Israelites became greedy for food, and even the Israelites themselves began moaning, "We don't have any meat! (5) In Egypt we could eat all the fish we wanted, and there were cucumbers, melons, onions, and garlic. (6) But we're starving out here, and the only food we have is this manna." (7) The manna was like small whitish seeds (8) and tasted like something baked with sweet olive oil. It appeared at night with the dew. In the morning the people would collect the manna, grind or crush it into flour, then boil it and make it into thin wafers.
Deuteronomy 8:1-7 (CEV) Israel, do you want to go into the land the LORD promised your ancestors? Do you want to capture it, live there, and become a powerful nation? Then be sure to obey every command I am giving you. (2) Don't forget how the LORD your God has led you through the desert for the past forty years. He wanted to find out if you were truly willing to obey him and depend on him, (3) so he made you go hungry. Then he gave you manna, a kind of food that you and your ancestors had never even heard about. The LORD was teaching you that people need more than food to live—they need every word that the LORD has spoken. (4) Over the past forty years, your clothing hasn't worn out, and your feet haven't swollen. (5) So keep in mind that the LORD has been correcting you, just as parents correct their children. (6) Obey the commands the LORD your God has given you and worship him with fear and trembling. (7) The LORD your God is bringing you into a good land with streams that flow from springs in the valleys and hills.
God provided manna from heaven to meet their physical needs!
Psalm 78:22-32 (Modern King James Version - MKJV) because they did not believe in God, and did not trust in His salvation; (23) though He had commanded the clouds from above, and had opened the doors of the heavens; (24) and had rained down manna on them to eat, and He gave them of the grain of the heavens. (25) Man ate the food of the mighty; He sent them meat to the full. (26) He caused an east wind to blow in the sky; and by His power He brought in the south wind. (27) and He also rained flesh on them like dust, and winged birds like the sand of the sea; (28) and He let them fall in the middle of their camp, all around their tents. (29) So they ate, and were filled to the full; for He gave them their own desire. (30) They were not turned away from their lust, but while their food was still in their mouths, (31) the wrath of God came on them and killed the fattest of them, and struck down the chosen of Israel. (32) For all this they still sinned, and did not believe because of His wonderful works.
Psalm 105:40-41 (MKJV) They asked, and He brought quail, and satisfied them with the food of heaven. (41) He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river.
Israel awoke each morning to find it already provided without toil. All they needed to do was collect it before it melted away with the hot sun. I.e., even the collection was done at the coolest time of day for their benefit. It was collected in the morning which gave them time to process it into food. Manna was capable of being baked and boiled, ground in mills, or beaten in a mortar. They used it to make a bread. It was not just a condiment to make food taste better. It was nutritionally balanced to provide what they needed to do what they needed to do in their environment. And God provided enough for those who couldn't gather for themselves such as small children, the elderly and infirm, the pregnant or handicapped. The Bible says there was enough for everyone's need.
There was one stipulation - only gather what you need for the day because it wouldn't keep until the next day. It was a daily exercise, not a once a week job or an annual harvest. The only exception was on Saturday. You could collect enough for 2 days so that you didn't have to work on the Sabbath. Of course, being human, the Israelites didn't listen to God's instructions and they tried to collect enough to store overnight but the next morning it would be rank and full of maggots. The exception was Saturday and Sunday. What they collected on Saturday remained fresh on Sunday just like God told them it would.
When Joshua and the people came to the border of Canaan, the Promised Land, and ate the food of the Promised Land, manna stopped the next day and was never seen again.
Joshua 5:10-12 (ERV) The Israelites celebrated Passover while they were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho. This was on the evening of the 14th day of the month. (11) The day after Passover, the people ate food that grew in that land. They ate bread made without yeast and roasted grain. (12) The next morning, the manna from heaven stopped coming. This happened the first day after the people ate the food that grew in the land of Canaan. From that time on, the Israelites did not get the manna from heaven.
Then God told Moses to collect an omer of manna and store it in a jar in the Ark of the Covenant. Since God told him to do that, then I can imagine that if we found the Ark of the Covenant and opened it and saw a jar inside, we would open it to find it fresh like when it was collected. It was to be a sign that would bring to their memory the story of how God had supernaturally provided for them in the wilderness. All of us have triggers that recall memories. It's the way it works. I can be walking on a hot summer's day and catch a whiff of honeysuckle and it takes me back to memories o childhood summers, bare feet and the sound of crickets. The honeysuckle is a trigger. Same with gravestones. They are to remind us, memorialize our loved one and trigger memories and stories. God wanted the Israelites to remember how He had miraculously provided food for them so He told Moses to store some manna in a jar and keep it in the Ark of the Covenant.
According to Second Maccabees, at the beginning of chapter 2:
The records show that it was the prophet Jeremiah who ... prompted by a divine message ... gave orders that the Tent of Meeting and the ark should go with him. Then he went away to the mountain from the top of which Moses saw God's promised land. When he reached the mountain, Jeremiah found a cave-dwelling; he carried the tent, the ark, and the incense-altar into it, then blocked up the entrance. Some of his companions came to mark out the way, but were unable to find it. When Jeremiah learnt of this he reprimanded them. "The place shall remain unknown", he said, "until God finally gathers his people together and shows mercy to them. The Lord will bring these things to light again, and the glory of the Lord will appear with the cloud, as it was seen both in the time of Moses and when Solomon prayed that the shrine might be worthily consecrated."
Catholics and Eastern Orthodox consider Second Maccabees to be canonical and part of the Bible. Protestants and Jews reject most of the doctrinal issues present in the work. Some Protestants include 2 Maccabees as part of the Biblical Apocrypha.
Suffice it to say that God alone knows where the Ark of the Covenant and it's contents are today. It's been hidden for thousands of years now.
Why do we need to know anything about manna today? What has the manna of thousands of years ago have to do with us today? Why are we studying ancient history?
John 6:30-71 (CEV) They replied, "What miracle will you work, so that we can have faith in you? What will you do? (31) For example, when our ancestors were in the desert, they were given manna to eat. It happened just as the Scriptures say, 'God gave them bread from heaven to eat.' " (32) Jesus then told them, "I tell you for certain that Moses wasn't the one who gave you bread from heaven. My Father is the one who gives you the true bread from heaven. (33) And the bread that God gives is the one who came down from heaven to give life to the world." (34) The people said, "Lord, give us this bread and don't ever stop!" (35) Jesus replied: I am the bread that gives life! No one who comes to me will ever be hungry. No one who has faith in me will ever be thirsty. (36) I have told you already that you have seen me and still do not have faith in me. (37) Everything and everyone that the Father has given me will come to me, and I won't turn any of them away. (38) I didn't come from heaven to do what I want! I came to do what the Father wants me to do. He sent me, (39) and he wants to make certain that none of the ones he has given me will be lost. Instead, he wants me to raise them to life on the last day. (40) My Father wants everyone who sees the Son to have faith in him and to have eternal life. Then I will raise them to life on the last day. (41) The people started grumbling because Jesus had said he was the bread that had come down from heaven. (42) They were asking each other, "Isn't he Jesus, the son of Joseph? Don't we know his father and mother? How can he say that he has come down from heaven?" (43) Jesus told them: Stop grumbling! (44) No one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me makes them want to come. But if they do come, I will raise them to life on the last day. (45) One of the prophets wrote, "God will teach all of them." And so everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him will come to me. (46) The only one who has seen the Father is the one who has come from him. No one else has ever seen the Father. (47) I tell you for certain that everyone who has faith in me has eternal life. (48) I am the bread that gives life! (49) Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, and later they died. (50) But the bread from heaven has come down, so that no one who eats it will ever die. (51) I am that bread from heaven! Everyone who eats it will live forever. My flesh is the life-giving bread that I give to the people of this world. (52) They started arguing with each other and asked, "How can he give us his flesh to eat?" (53) Jesus answered: I tell you for certain that you won't live unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man. (54) But if you do eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will have eternal life, and I will raise you to life on the last day. (55) My flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink. (56) If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you are one with me, and I am one with you. (57) The living Father sent me, and I have life because of him. Now everyone who eats my flesh will live because of me. (58) The bread that comes down from heaven isn't like what your ancestors ate. They died, but whoever eats this bread will live forever.
Jesus declares that He is the Bread of Life, the true Manna! Manna was a type of Christ. A "type" is a person or thing symbolizing or exemplifying the ideal or defining characteristics of something. When something is considered a "type of Christ" it means that something gave a foreshadowing of Christ. It makes me think of looking through a blurry telescope. I see something that is the shape of a tree and I would say, "That looks like a tree." Not because I can clearly see it. I will need to adjust the telescope to get a clearer picture. But from all indications, what I'm seeing looks like a tree. Well, there are lots of types of Christ in the Old Testament. For instance, the manna was God's way of giving the Israelites a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. A type is a special kind of symbolism.
The manna came down as the people camped in the Wilderness of Sin at Elim just as Jesus came down to us as we reside in sin. It was a special gift from God just as Jesus is a special gift from God. He came down from heaven, like manna came down from heaven. God supernaturally provided manna for the Israelites to eat, it was just what they needed to have a healthy life. God supernaturally provided Jesus for us and He was just what we needed for eternal life! We are not saved by anything we do! We cannot work for our salvation. Neither did the Israelites have to work for the manna that fell freely from heaven. The Israelites didn't deserve God's providence but out of His mercy and love, He sent them manna. We are sinners and do not deserve the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ but in His mercy and love, He sent His Son to save us.
Romans 5:6-8 (CEV) Christ died for us at a time when we were helpless and sinful. (7) No one is really willing to die for an honest person, though someone might be willing to die for a truly good person. (8) But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful.
Manna was gathered in the morning before the sun grew hot and melted it. In the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9), Jesus said the Sower would sow seeds but where the seed fell resulted in whether it took root, matured and brought forth fruit.
Matthew 13:5-6 (CEV) Other seeds fell on thin, rocky ground and quickly started growing because the soil wasn't very deep. (6) But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and dried up, because they did not have enough roots.
Jesus, Himself, explained the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:18-23. For the verses of 5-6, Jesus explained it this way:
Matthew 13:20-21 (CEV) The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it right away. (21) But they don't have deep roots, and they don't last very long. As soon as life gets hard or the message gets them in trouble, they give up.
Hosea 6:4 (CEV) People of Israel and Judah, what can I do with you? Your love for me disappears more quickly than mist or dew at sunrise.
Appetite determined the amount given. Each person collected based on their appetite and desire for the day. How much of Christ do you want? If you want little of Christ, little is given. If your appetite increases and you desire more of Christ, more is given! We cannot be disappointed. We will never be disappointed. We will not be spiritually hungry or starved. If we want Him, we have Him!
Psalm 81:10 (MKJV) I am Jehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
Sin blinds us and the things of this world get in the way and it obscures our spiritual sight. We may not see the beauty of the Lord and His perfection. But the more we see of Him, the more we want Him and the more He gives of Himself to us.
The manna was ground or boiled to process. Jesus was wounded, bruised, chastised, beaten, whipped for us! To save us, He was ground and chewed up.
Isaiah 53:2-7 (MKJV) For He comes up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground; He has no form nor majesty that we should see Him, nor an appearance that we should desire Him. (3) He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as it were a hiding of faces from Him, He being despised, and we esteemed Him not. (4) Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (5) But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was on Him; and with His stripes we ourselves are healed. (6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each one to his own way; and Jehovah has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (7) He was oppressed, and He was afflicted; yet He opened not His mouth. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.
Manna was said to taste sweet like honey.
Psalm 34:8 (King James Version - KJV) O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Psalm 119:103 (KJV) How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
1 Peter 2:2-3 (ERV) Like newborn babies hungry for milk, you should want the pure teaching that feeds your spirit. With it you can grow up and be saved. (3) You have already tasted the goodness of the Lord.
The manna had to be gathered by individuals who went out each day to gather baskets of manna to get them through the day. They had to kneel to collect it as we have to kneel in humility to accept the gift of salvation through Jesus. Salvation through Jesus Christ was a gift but it must be individually accepted. Each of us have a responsibility for accepting, or rejecting, the free gift of provision for our salvation. I cannot pray you into heaven, I can only pray for myself and accept His gift.
The dew fell, then the manna fell on the dew and then another dew fell on the manna. This means the manna didn't fall on the dirt. Jesus was born as fully man and fully God. He was a man from Mary's side and God from God's side. God implanted the divine seed within Mary. Why is this important? Because it means that though Jesus was fully human, He was a human without sin and was fully God too. Son of Man, Son of God. Because He was man, He could die in our place and pay our price for sin. Because He was God, He could live a sinless life and be the perfect sacrifice. The dirt, or dust, of the ground represents humanity, sinful humanity. The Word became flesh, but in His humanity the Lord Jesus did not share our corrupt nature. His humanity was encapsulated in the divine. He came as a servant, but the body which was prepared for Him (Hebrews 10:5) did not belong to the "dust" of this earth. He was God Man. The manna was white, the color of purity.
Jesus was crucified and laid in a grave until He was resurrected. But His body was preserved, it did not decay or rot or become full of maggots. Jesus was raised incorruptible with His glorified body intact! Manna would become wormy and decay if held more than one day, but, miraculously, on the Sabbath the manna would remain fresh. Guess which day Jesus arose? On the Sabbath!
Psalm 16:9-11 (ERV) So my heart and soul will be very happy. Even my body will live in safety, (10) because you will not leave me in the place of death. You will not let your faithful one rot in the grave. (11) You will teach me the right way to live. Just being with you will bring complete happiness. Being at your right side will make me happy forever.
Revelation 2:17 (KJV) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the hidden manna
Finally, God commanded Moses to collect an omer of manna and keep it in a gold jar in the Ark of the Covenant. The gold jar represents the deity and glory of God in Jesus. And the Ark of the Covenant has been missing for centuries. Jesus, as the Bread of Life, ascended to Heaven where we can no longer see Him with our eyes or touch Him with our hands. He is hidden in heaven at the right hand of God. He will remain there until the days are fulfilled and God deems it's time for Him to return and He will be manifested before all the world.
Revelation 1:7 (KJV) Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Romans 14:11 (KJV) For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God."
I don't know about you but it excites me to learn about these things. It makes me hunger for more of the Word! For more of Christ! The more I study, the more I learn how every word of the Bible is truth.