Explore the Bible Series
April 11, 2010
Background Passage: Exodus 15:22-18:27
Lesson Passage: Exodus 16:2-4, 11-15, 18, 32-34
The Israelites migrated into the Sinai Peninsula, a triangular landmass bounded by the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba. At its widest point the peninsula stretches for approximately one hundred and fifty miles, and it narrows to a mountainous southern tip, on the shores of the Red Sea. Today, it is a sparsely populated region rich in oil and mineral deposits. The peninsula’s flora will support sheep and goat herding, but it cannot sustain agriculture or a large human population.
No one can certainly identify the biblical Mount Sinai. The traditional site of the Mountain, Jebel Musa (“the Mount of Moses”) is located in the south central peninsula. Some scholars believe it more likely that Israel took a more northern route, and they designate Jebel Helah, far to the north of Jebel Musa, as the mountain of the Ten Commandments. Reference to the conflict with the Amalekites may point toward the northern site.
Three similar incidents appear in our lesson. In each case, the Hebrews experienced a serious threat to their survival, they complained against the Lord, and God graciously, patiently met the needs of his people. Also, Moses acted as mediator between the disgruntled Jews and Jehovah, interceding for the needy, helpless people.
The Bitter Waters of Marah (15:22-27): The writer of
the Book of Exodus provided considerable geographical information for his
readers, but modern Bible scholars cannot, with certainty, identify many of the
sites mentioned in our lesson. The text
II. The Gracious Provision of Manna (16:1-36): The giving of manna (Hebrew reads “what is it?”) provides one of the highpoints of the Exodus story, and the imagery of manna appears several times in the rest of the Bible (See Nehemiah 9:15; Psalm 78:23-31; John 6:31-58; Hebrews 9:4; Revelation 2:17).
The people, true to form, murmured
against their leaders, romanticizing about the abundance enjoyed in
Each Israelite was allotted an omer (about two quarts), an amount one person could eat in a day (no “super-sizing” was allowed!). Persons who hoarded the manna found it spoiled and worm-ridden by the next morning. On Fridays, the people were allowed a double portion of the heavenly bread, enough for the careful observance of Sabbath rest. Perhaps Aaron, or other priests, made certain to include this material concerning the sanctity of the Sabbath (See vv. 22-31), as it related to food production and preparation. Furthermore, an omer of manna was placed in a receptacle for later preservation in the Ark of the Covenant (See vv. 32-33).
III. Two Additional Struggles in the Wilderness of Sin (17:1-16)
at Meribah (vv. 1-7): Gradually, the Hebrews made their way through the Sinai
Peninsula, and when they arrived at Rephidim
(uncertain location), water supplies failed them again. As before, they murmured against Moses, and
the Israelite statesman feared the people might stone him. The text records
that God told Moses to strike the rock of Horeb (must have been located very
IV. Jethro’s Fellowship with Moses (18:1-27)
A. Moses’ reunion with Jethro (vv. 1-12): We know little about Moses’ father-in-law. He was a priest of Midian (probably a polytheist) who gradually became convinced of the power of Jehovah (See v. 11). Sometime during the Exodus story, Moses sent his family, Zipporah and their two sons, to live with Jethro, and, after the battle with Amalek, Jethro returned the family to Moses. The two men warmly greeted one another, and Jethro expressed his amazement at Jehovah’s power.
B. The administration of the people (vv. 13-27): The Jews, at this early stage in their national development, did not have a judicial system. Moses taught the people the law of God, but he also judged the disputes that arose. The workload overwhelmed Moses, and Jethro encouraged his son-in-law to delegate judgment to capable, honorable men. Following Jethro’s counsel, Moses created a kind of appellate system where he judged only the most difficult cases.