Now the Israelites were no longer in a level land, with fields of grain, abundance of food, and streams of water. They were in a great dessert with a rocky path under them, mountains fo rock rising all around, and only a few springs of water far apart.
Because there were so many people, along with their flocks, much water was needed. But because they were in a desert, there was very little water.
As they were traveling, they saw in the distance some springs of water. They ran to drink from it because they were so thirsty. But when they tasted it, they found it to be so bitter that they could not even drink it.
The people cried out to Moses, "This water is terrible! We can't drink it, and we are so thirsty!" In fact the place was named Marah, which means "bitterness."
Moses cried to the Lord for help. "Lord, these people are thirsty. They are complaining to me. What am I to do?"
The Lord showed Moses a tree, and told him to cut it down and throw it into the water.
After passing Marah, they came to another and more pleasant place, where they saw twelve springs of fresh water, and a grove of seventy palm trees around them.
There they rested under the cool shade.
But soon they were in a hot desert of sand between the waters of Elim and Mount Sinai.
Again they were in great trouble, for there was no food for such a great crowd of people.
Moses called upon God, and the Lord said, "I will rain bread from heaven upon you. You shall go out and gather it every day."
The next morning, when the people looked out of their tents, they saw all around the camp, on the sand, little white flakes, like snow or frost. They had never seen anything like it before. So they asked, "What is this?" In the language of the Israelites, the Hebrew language, "What is it?" is the word "Manhu." So the people said to one another "Manhu? Manhu?" This gave the name to what they saw, which we now call Manna.
Moses said to them, "This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. Go out and gather it, as much as you need. But take only as much as you need for today, because it will not keep. God will give you more tomorrow."
So the people went out, and gathered the manna. They cooked it in various ways, baking it and boiling it. The taste of it was like wafers flavored with honey.
But some people didn't obey what Moses said. They took more than they needed, not trusting God's word that there would be more on the next day. But these people learned quickly that the extra that they had taken for the next day was no good. It had spoiled and smelled terrible. It was useless and couldn't be eaten. This is how God was teaching the people that each day they should trust Him for their daily bread.
But the manna which was left on the ground did not spoil. When the sun came up, it melted away, just like frost or snow flakes. Before the sixth day of the week came, Moses said to the people, "Tomorrow, on the sixth day of the week, take twice as much manna as usual. For the next day is the Lord's Sabbath, the day of rest. Manna will not come on that day."
So the next morning, all the people went out as before to gather manna. On that day, they found that the manna which was not used did not spoil, but kept fresh until the next morning.
On the Sabbath day, some of the people who had failed to hear Moses, and had not gathered the manna in advance for the Sabbath, went out and couldn't find any. So that day, these people had nothing to eat. The Israelites learned the lesson, which we should also remember, that one day in each week belongs to God, and is to be kept holy to the Lord.
All the time that the Israelites lived in the wilderness, which was forty years, they ate manna which God gave them day by day. Not until they entered the land of Canaan, did the manna stop falling.
Do you remember who it was, long after this, that said, "I am the bread of life. He that comes to me shall never hunger, and he that believes on me shall never thirst?" If you're not sure, look up John 6:35.
1. Where are the Israelites in the beginning of this story? In other words, what type of an area are they in?
2. The Israelites are very thirsty, and they finally see springs of water. But when they try to drink it, what happens?
3. They complained to Moses, and he asked God what to do about this. What did God instruct Moses to do?
4. What was the water like after this?
5. The next problem was not enough food. How did God supply this need?
6. What was this food called? How did it get this name?
7. What special instructions did God give as to how much food should be gathered? How was this different on the day before the Sabbath?
8. What happened when the people gathered food for more than one day?
9. What happened when the people didn't gather extra food for the Sabbath?
10. What was God trying to teach the Israelites by His instructions about the food?
11. How does this story relate to the words of Jesus in John 6:35?
12. What lesson do you think God could be trying to teach you from this story?
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Bible Story Source
Adapted from Mother's Story of the Bible, copyright 1905.