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as being still in use at a little later period of the history. But nothing there said of it indicates the supply to have been of a miraculous nature, either as to time, quantity, or any other particular. Once more, the supply of manna is spoken of in the same terms as that of quails, which latter there is no reason whatever to regard as having been permanent, or frequent.*
Again ; the idea of a permanent suspension of the supply on the Sabbaths, and a miraculous distinction in its quantity between Fridays and other days, will not, I think, be found capable of bearing examination. Manna being a substance liable to putrefy, if kept in its natural state, the Israelites were directed to gather no more of it than a convenient specified quantity, and not to keep any portion by them. But this rule was suspended for the day preceding the Sabbath ; and “it came to pass that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man; and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.” What the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses was, not that more manna had been furnished and might be gathered on that day than on the preceding days, but that more had actually been gathered by the people. For aught that appears, they might, as far as the quantity accessible to them was concerned, have gathered a double quantity as well on the preceding days as on this. So I take the sense of the words, “He giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days,” to be; he alloweth to you, he permitteth you to take, on that day a double portion. *
* Ex. xvi. 8. — I have expressed freely the doubts, which occur respecting the supposed purpose of the writer to represent the supernatural provision of manna as having been permanent, and not merely occasional. But, after all, it may have been necessary for the poorer portion of the people to be permanently provided for; and if so, there could be no more unexceptionable way of affording the supply, than by a constant supernaturally increased production of a natural product of the wil. derness.
But, it will be said, we are expressly told, that “there went out some of the people, on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.” † We are told this; and so much, and no more, I think it was probably intended that we should understand. We are told, that, on one occasion, at the time to which it properly belonged to enforce the obligation of a strict observance of the Sabbath, this remarkable distinction was made between the Sabbath and other days. The lesson, once given in this striking manner, it is not to be presumed would need repetition in the same way. And to suppose a weekly repetition of such a miracle through forty years, is to make a supposition equally without apparent support in the reason of the case, or in the letter of Scripture. I
Again; that it was not by a miracle, but by a culinary process, recommended by Moses, that the manna reserved for use on the Sabbath was kept from corruption, is, I conceive, sufficiently apparent from the twentythird and twenty-fourth verses. We gather from them, that though preferred in its natural state, either on account of the greater palatableness, or on account of the trouble of preparation, yet, as it could not be kept in that state, and as it must not be gathered fresh on the Sabbath, some way of preparing it was to be prescribed, in which it would remain a little time fit for use. Accordingly, as soon as it was reported to Moses, that his direction respecting the collection of a double quantity had been observed, he proceeded to give the further order respecting the method of its preservation. “Bake that ye will bake to-day, and seethe that ye will seethe;" – bake or boil what ye wish to keep; for it cannot be preserved without such preparation.
xvi. 19, 20, 22, 29. I add, that, if no manna could be obtained at any time on the Sabbath-day, there would be no place for the trial of obedience spoken of in xvi. 4, 5.
+ xvi. 27.
† “ Ye shall not find it,” (25,) is very properly interpreted, “ye shall not go to find it”; and “in it there shall be none,” (26,) is equivalent to “ there shall be none gathered.”
The miraculous production of water by Moses, to supply the people's thirst, is the subject of a simple narrative in the first part of the seventeenth chapter. In the latter part of that chapter, we read of a skirmish between the Israelites, headed by Joshua, and the Amalekites, a roving tribe of the wilderness, by whom they had been assailed.* We are told, that, on this occasion, when Moses' hands, weary and feeble, drooped by his side, no longer holding up the staff by the extension of which he had wrought his wonders in Egypt, and which was the acknowledged symbol of his divinely delegated authority, then the hostile force prevailed; but that when they were sustained by Aaron and Hur, the host of Israel triumphed. The fitness of this divine arrangement (so to term it) will appear to us on a moment's consideration. The object of the miracles connected with the ministry of Moses, after the departure from Egypt, was primarily to establish his authority over the minds of the people. But this the mere acts would not do, unless there were some outward sign to connect them with his agency, and make them bear testimony to him. A miraculous rending of the earth, for instance, without any word or other sign of Moses, would obviously no more prove his divine legation than it would prove that of any other man. But, when the people saw the banner of the Lord in his hand, (for so the rod is called in the evident allusion to it in the words “ Jehovah nissi,” “the Lord my banner,") always insuring to them victory, as long as it was raised, and leaving them to defeat when it sank, they took an impressive lesson concerning the power which he was authorized to exert over them, and the divine protection which he enjoyed, shared by themselves as long as they yielded to his guidance. This act connected Moses with their success against the Amalekites, as much as the extension of Moses' rod over the Red Sea connected him with their miraculous passage of that flood, or as our Lord's declaration, “So be it done unto thee," connected him with the cure of the centurion's child.* - The sense of the last three verses appears to be; Acquaint Joshua both in word and writing, that he must prepare himself for a continuation of this war, which he has now so successfully begun. It is not to terminate with this generation. The people, whose future leader he is to be, must expect to prosecute it in the next and in others still more remote.t
xvii. 8-16. The assault of the Amalekites was perhaps to obtain possession of the copious supply of water.
On the eighteenth chapter I make no other observation than one, to which I shall presently have occasion to recur.P Before the people received at Sinai what we technically call their Law, a Common or consue. tudinary Law was already in force among them. Moses administered justice to the people, before he was in possession of the divinely prescribed code for his rule. That code, when it was promulgated, took the place of what is called in these times statute law. Accordingly we are not to expect, as is perhaps commonly done, to find in it a complete system of jurisprudence, determining all the obligations of men in all their relations. Should we examine it under this prepossession, we should be obliged to own, that it left many chasms; that there are many important questions, belonging to the province of law, which it does not touch; many particulars of the relation between man and man, which it does not regulate; many of the essential wants of every society, for which it does not provide.
* Matthew viii. 13.
4 The text is doubtful in this place, the versions varying in their authority; and one is tempted to think that there was originally a paronomasia between the words do and 102, which is now lost by a change in the former word, of ; to 3, or in the latter, of ; to 3.
| To " inquire of God,” (xviii. 15,) is probably understood by most interpreters of Scripture, as indicating an application to the Divine Being for some supernatural communication of knowledge. But it is evident that Moses here uses the word respecting the people's resort to him to be instructed in their rights and duties. They “inquired of God” when they came to Moses for his arbitration on disputed questions ; he pronounced judgment agreeably to established principles of equity, such as God is understood to approve ; and this he called (16) making them 5 know the statutes of God, and his laws.”