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Bible: What Does Exodus 15-16 Teach Us About God's Power and Provision?

Updated on September 9, 2016

The Red Sea

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Attribute of God Emphasized


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The Song of Moses

The first eighteen verses comprise the so-called "Song of Moses," commemorating the LORD’s victory over the Egyptians at the Red Sea.

Israel and its leader begin by extolling the person of God for this glorious triumph (v. 1), using several metaphors (“strength,” “song,” “salvation,” “man of war”) [vv. 2-3a].

They marvel that Pharaoh’s hosts have met their demise and have sunk to the bottom of the sea (vv. 4-5; cf. v. 10).

Moses emphasizes the LORD’s “right hand” as the powerful agent that destroyed the Egyptians (v. 6). God’s great “excellence” overthrew the opposition, and His ‘’wrath” made it dust (v. 7).

[“Excellence” pertains to His majesty or exaltation as King, perhaps the perfection of His attributes].

Next, the author describes the means God used to part the sea: the strong east wind he calls “the blast of Your nostrils” (v. 8a; cf. 14:21).

The waters appeared to him to have become solid (“congealed, became firm”) [v. 8b].

He records the prideful words of the would-be conqueror—note the many times he used the term “I”—and relates how God brought the Egyptian to destruction (vv. 9-10).

Therefore Moses praises the LORD for His uniqueness, His holiness, and His wonder-working power (v. 11).

Again, he mentions God’s right hand commanding power over enemies (v. 12), but also His mercy redeeming for Himself a people to worship Him at His “holy habitation” (v. 13).

[Later, Moses refers to this site as the “mountain of Your inheritance” and “the place . . . which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary” (v. 17).

These references must point to Zion, not Sinai (cf. Ps. 2:6)].

The exercise of the LORD’s strong “arm” will cause the Canaanites, Philistines, Moabites, and Edomites to cringe until Israel “passes over” the Jordan, and God plants him in Zion (vv. 14-16).

Yahweh’s universal kingdom is eternal (v. 18); verse 19 merely restates the facts of Egypt’s destruction and Israel’s salvation (cf. 14:22-23, 28-29).

Marah: The Waters of Bitterness

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Bitterness in the Wilderness

Then Miriam, Moses’ sister, joins in the festivities with her friends, dancing to and singing the above song (vv. 20-21).

[Of course, one must not miss the prophetic element in Moses’ song, for he speaks of Zion (Jerusalem) as the center of Israelite worship in the distant future].

Israel soon encounters their first trial as a “believing” nation: three days in the wilderness, and they find no water (v. 22).

[Yahweh had commanded them to travel three days into the wilderness and make sacrifices to Him (cf. 3:18; 5:3; 8:27)].

When they finally discover a source at Marah, the draught is bitter, making them likewise (vv. 23-24).

[“Marah,” incidentally, means bitter].

In answer to Moses’ prayer, God comes to the rescue again, providing His servant a way to purify the water (v. 25).

Yahweh also lays down an ordinance and tests Israel’s obedience, promising the people freedom from disease if they passed the exam (v. 26).

The people eventually arrive at Elim where rest and resources are plentiful, and they camp there for awhile (v. 27).

Israel Gathers Manna

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Manna from Heaven

Exodus 16

About a month after the Passover (2/15), Israel arrives in the Wilderness of Sin (a place between Elim and Sinai; the border between Judah and Edom [Jos. 15:1-3] [v. 1]).

Again, the people complain to Moses, but this time they are "up in arms" about the lack of food—a commodity not missing in Egypt (vv. 2-3).

[They say that they would have preferred to die “by the hand of the LORD” while in bondage to Egypt.

How would the LORD have been responsible for their death? How long did they camp at Elim?].

Both to satisfy this legitimate need and to test their obedience, the LORD provides Israel with a certain quota of “heaven-sent” bread every day, beginning on the first day of the week.

Why Twice As Much on the Sixth Day


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Twice As Much

On the sixth day (Friday), He directs them to gather from the ground twice as much [in order to avoid work on the Sabbath] (vv. 4-5).

In response to their complaints against God (though Moses believed that he and Aaron took the brunt of it), Moses announces to Israel that they would come to “know” their powerful Savior LORD at evening.

Then they would see His glory in the morning when He feeds them both meat and bread (vv. 6-8).

At Moses’ command, Aaron tells all Israel to gather before the LORD (v. 9); when they assemble, they see God’s glory in the cloud in the wilderness (v. 10).

Speaking to Moses, Yahweh reiterates His promise to provide food for Israel so that they would know their God (v. 12).

As soon as the next morning’s dew lifts, Israel finds “a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground” (v. 14).

[Moses merely mentions God’s provision of the quail during the previous evening (v. 13)].

When they ask each other what it is, Moses tells them it is God’s daily provision they must gather each morning according to their needs (vv. 15-16).

They obey the LORD, and everyone has his needs met (vv. 17-18; cf. 2 Cor. 8:8-15).

Still, some people disobey Moses’ directive, leaving the bread on the ground until the morning sun melts it, and the substance breeds worms (vv. 19-21).

On the sixth day, Moses instructs Israel to gather twice as much bread as normal, bake or boil what they will, and lay up the rest until morning (vv. 22-24).

On the Sabbath, they eat the leftovers because God does not rain manna on that day (vv. 25-26).

When some disregard Moses’ command not to gather on the Sabbath, the LORD becomes angry (vv. 27-29).

[As the text appears to read, God reprimands Moses because some people disobeyed Him.

But perhaps the LORD is merely speaking to Israel through Moses, and He is not railing against Moses at all].

The people learn their lesson and do not gather manna (for that is what they called the sweet bread) on the seventh day (vv. 30-31).

The LORD commands Moses to set aside an omer (one-tenth of an ephah) of the manna before the Testimony, the tablets of stone (vv. 32-34).

[An ephah is about three pecks and three pints; an omer is about 5.1 pints (v. 36; see Unger, Bible Dictionary, 721).

The patriarch, of course, has not yet written the Testimony.

Moses is merely providing a snapshot of the history of manna in verses 34-35, including how many years Israel ate this heavenly food. Cf. Josh. 5:12].

© 2013 glynch1

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