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had hitherto secured them against his power, was withdrawn. He pursued them accordingly, and encountered the miraculous discomfiture, which was designed to confirm the confidence of the Israelites in their deliverer, and to discourage their oppressor from any further attempts.
At Marah, where, under providential, or miraculous guidance, Moses is enabled by the infusion of a leaf or herb, to prepare the bitter waters for the people's use, we are told that God “made for them a statute and an ordinance.” † Agreeably to a well known Hebrew idiom, this might suitably be rendered, “a (or the] great ordinance,” “the important statute.” What statute it was, we are not told; but the accompanying circumstances of solemn injunction show, that it was regarded as of special consideration, and it has been suggested, (with strong probability as I think,) to have been the sabbatical institution. We shall presently find
* xiv. 18, 31. “Dry land” (xiv. 22) is land sufficiently bare of water to walk on. Compare Genesis i. 9.- 6 The waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left”; (ibid.) that is, the deeper waters on either side were a defence to their flanks. Compare 1 Samuel xxy. 16. It is true that (xv. 8) we find the image presented, which is commonly received from the historical statement. But this latter text occurs in the midst of an impassioned lyric. - The Lord (25) “ took off their chariot wheels ”; their chariots were shattered in driving over the rocks in the bed of the river, over which, in consequence of the miraculous act which had been done, they had been led to attempt a passage. “ The waters returned (28) and covered .... all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them.” It is not declared that the waters overwhelmed them all, but 102, concealed them, swept them out of sight, either beneath the surface, or back upon the shore. — “There remained not so much as one of them.” That is, none remained embattled, or in pursuit. We are by no
means told that every individual perished. Moses relates what he saw.
6 There remained not so much as one of them” in his view. The stronger representation given in xv. 5, requires, as before, allowance for the license of the most animated and adventurous form of poetry, that of the Ode. Compare xv. 12.
† Exodus xv. 25. See Stuart's Grammar, § 438, a. note.
that institution referred to as one, respecting which the Israelites had received previous instruction ;* and elsewhere † an historical connexion seems to be assigned to it with the deliverance from Egypt.I
In the sixteenth chapter, we read, that the people, having advanced in their journey as far as “ the wilderness of Sin,” were distressed for want of food, and were miraculously supplied with quails and with manna. The impression is, I believe, not uncommon, that the supernatural provision of quails, during the journey through the wilderness, was frequent. We are, however, only told of its having been made on two occasions.
In respect to the provision of manna, the opinion which prevails (entertained, no doubt, with different qualifications by different minds,) is substantially as follows; that the food miraculously furnished was made to descend from the sky; that it made the only, or, at least, the chief food of the Israelites, during their forty years' pilgrimage; that none was supplied on the sabbaths, while twice the usual quantity was furnished on every Friday;
* Ex. xvi. 23. Compare Ex. xvi. 4, 5, where a previous institution of the sabbatical rest seems to be implied.
+ E. g. Deut. v. 15; Ezek. xx. 10-12; Neh. ix. 12.
† “ Miriam the prophetess,” (xv. 20,) $'?); in this instance, Miriam the song stress. Compare Judges iv. 4; v. 1; 1 Chron. xxv. 1, 2, 3. — “ Miriam answered them, “Sing ye unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea?” (21); that is, Miriam and her women responded by singing the whole Ode; as we should
say, “Miriam sang “Sing unto the Lord,' and so forth.” Viz. those referred to in Exodus xvi. 13, and in Numbers xi. 31. “ Ye have brought us forth into this wilderness,” said they, (xvi. 3,) “ to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” “Ye shall know,” replied Moses and Aaron, (6,) promising them relief, “ that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt.” – Verse 10, I understand in connexion with verses 11 and 12. While Aaron was addressing the people, (10,) they, for the greater impression on their minds, were made to see, at a distance, a glorious cloud, from which Jehovah (11, 12) gave his directions to Moses. VOL. I.
and that, during the Sabbath, what was laid up for that day was miraculously kept from putrefaction.* On each of these particulars I am briefly to remark.
Manna is a substance well known in natural history. “At this day,” says Calmet, “manna falls in several places; in Arabia, in Poland, in Calabria, in Mount Libanus, and elsewhere. The most common and the most famous is that of Arabia, which is a kind of condensed honey, found in the summer time on the leaves of trees, on herbs, on the rocks, or on the sand, of Arabia Petræa. It is of the same figure as Moses describes. That which is gathered about Mount Sinai has a very strong smell, which it receives from the herbs on which it falls.” This being so, the supposition of the miraculous creation of a new substance appears to be entirely gratuitous. The case seems to have been the same, so far, with the manna as with the quails. Both were alike natural productions. The miracle consisted in the seasonable provision of such quantities of them on this occasion.
Nor can any different inference be safely drawn from the mention of the manna's having been rained † from heaven, nor from that medicinal property of the sub
* So our learned countryman, Dr. Harris, in his “Natural History of the Bible," p. 292. “ It fell every day except on the Sabbath; and this only around the camp of the Israelites. Every sixth day, there fell a double quantity, and though it putrefied and bred maggots when it was kept any other day, yet on the Sabbath there was no such alteration. It fell in so great quantities during the whole forty years of their journey, that it was sufficient to feed the whole multitude of above a million of souls.” Some even go so far as to suppose, that there was a miraculous superintendence of the Israelites in their collection of this food, so that no man, through any accident, gathered cither more or less than an omer. But this is distinctly contradicted by verse 17, which requires us to explain verse 18 as meaning, that, after the collection of an omer had been made according to each man's best judgment, the quantities were equalized by measurement.
† xvi. 4.
stance now known under that name, which some have supposed to render it unfit for food. — As to the latter, no fact in physiology is better established, than that the system easily accommodates itself to an influence of this kind. Calmet quotes an authority to the point, that “the country people about Mount Libanus eat the manna found there, as others would honey”; and the property in question would even, it is probable, render this food particularly salutary for persons living, as the Israelites were now, in circumstances resembling the unnatural habits of a camp. - As to any force of the former expression, any thing which is sent in abundance, is said, by a natural figure, to be rained. Such a use of the word is not considered violent even in our own language;* still less can it be reckoned so in the simplicity of the Hebrew.t And Heaven, by an easy metonymy, is frequently, in Scripture language, used for God, so that to say that the manna was sent from Heaven, is simply to ascribe its provision to a divine agency.
The supposition that manna made the only, or the chief food of the Israelites during their journey through the wilderness, has still less plausibility. It supposes a permanent need, which, to all appearance, did not exist. The Israelites were not journeying through a mere waste of unproductive sand. Such is by no means the * So Shakspeare ;
“ Rain sacrificial whisperings in his ear.” But particularly, how natural such a form of speech is, in respect to an abundant vegetable product, the source of which it is not intended to describe with technical accuracy, is apparent in the article of Calmet, quoted above. " At this day," he says, manna falls in Arabia,” but when he proceeds to treat of it more exactly, he describes it as exuding from a tree. Late discoveries seem to show that it is obtained by the puncture of an insect. See Gesenius's Lexicon, Art. 17.
+ See Psalm xi. 6; Job xx. 23. | Matthew xxi. 25; Mark xi, 30, 31 ; Luke xx. 4, 5; Dan. iv. 23 (26.)
import, either in the Old Testament or the New, of the words translated “wilderness.” On this point, it is enough to say here, that their marches through the wilderness brought them to many cities, or posts, which are named,* and that they were accompanied by their cattle, which, on the one hand, must have found grazing ground, for the manna was not suitable food for them, and, on the other, might have served their owners for part of their food. The thirty-fifth verse, as far as I know, is the only authority, which could be appealed to in behalf of the opinion of a standing miracle in this instance. But even if it was written by Moses, t it can by no means be safely affirmed to signify more, than that such use as the Israelites made of manna, whether more or less frequent, was discontinued after they passed from the wilderness into Palestine. That they did use other food than manna during this time, is also a necessary inference from a passage in Deuteronomy. And had it been otherwise, one might ask, why it was, that, on the first-related provision of manna, Moses issued a command from the Lord, “Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations, that they may see the bread, wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness.” If the provision was constantly repeated through forty years, it might rather be supposed, that the time for a specimen of it to be laid up for preservation, would be when the supply was about to be discontinued. It is true, that in the eleventh chapter of Numbers, we read of manna
* See Numbers xxxiii. 6- 37.
f I make this qualification, because there can be little doubt, in any mind, that verse 36 is one of those texts, which are to be understood as inserted after the time of Moses. He would hardly have set down the definition of a measure, which was in common use in his day. And if he did not write this verse, it is natural to adopt the same opinion concerning the preceding, which, like it, has the appearance of a gloss, and is intimately connected with it. | ii. 6.
§ Verses 6-9.