Complaints about food (16:1-36)
The people soon forgot God’s goodness to them in giving them water, and complained against him again. This time their complaint was that they had no food (16:1-3). Once more God lovingly gave his people what they needed. From this time on till they entered Canaan, their regular food would be a flake- like substance that they had never seen before. They called the food manna (meaning ‘What is it?’), because they did not know what else to call it (4; see v. 15).
God supplied the manna every morning and the people had to eat it that day. The only exceptions concerned the Sabbath, their weekly day of rest. On Saturday mornings God gave no manna, but on Fridays he gave two days supply, half of which the people kept for use on Saturday. The manna spoiled quickly, so the people preserved the extra amount for Saturday by baking or boiling it beforehand (5-7; see v. 23). The night before the first supply of manna, God gave the people additional food in the form of an abundance of birds which, apparently being tired after a long flight, were easily caught and cooked for supper (8-13). Concerning the collection and distribution of the manna in the morning, Moses gave instructions to ensure that no one had either too much or too little (14-18).
Through the command that prohibited keeping the manna overnight, God gave his people the opportunity to prove their obedience. Through the promise that ensured rest on the Sabbath because of the double supply of manna each Friday, God presented them with a way to demonstrate their faith. But in both matters they failed (19-30).
Moses was commanded to put part of the manna in a jar and keep it as a memorial of how God fed his people in the wilderness. The jar was later placed in the ark of the covenant together with Aaron’s rod and the stone tablets on which the law was written (31-36; see Heb 9:4).