God gives the Israelites manna and quail to eat

Illustration by Linda Rivers


On the 15th day of the second month after God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, the people came to the desert of Sin, which was between Elim and Sinai.

The people began to grumble against Moses and his brother, Aaron.

“Would that we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!” they complained. “But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!”

God heard the complaining and spoke to Moses.

“I will now rain down bread from heaven for you,” God told Moses. “Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not. On the sixth day, however, when they prepare what they bring in, let it be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

Moses turned to Aaron.

“Tell the whole congregation of the children of Israel: Present yourselves before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling,” Moses told his brother.

When Aaron announced this to the whole assembly, the people turned toward the desert. That’s when they saw the glory of God appear in a cloud.

“I have heard the grumbling of the children of Israel,” God said to Moses. “Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God.”

In the evening, quail came up and covered the camp.

In the morning, a dew lay all about the camp. When the dew evaporated, fine flakes like frost covered the surface of the ground.

“What is this?” the Israelites asked one another.

“This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat,” Moses said. “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.”

Morning after morning, the Israelites gathered the manna, as much as each needed to eat. But when the sun grew hot, it melted away.


Exodus 16


  1. What did the Israelites complain about?
  2. What food did God give the Israelites?

TRIVIA: What did manna taste like? (Hint: Exodus 16:31)

Answer: Wafers made with honey.


During their 40-year journey in the desert, the Israelites not only argued with Moses about food but also about water.

In Exodus 17, we read that the Israelites left the desert of Sin and journeyed to a place called Rephidim.

Since there was no water there, the Israelites began to quarrel with Moses.

“Give us water to drink,” they demanded.

“Why do you quarrel with me?” Moses answered. “Why do you put the Lord to a test?”

The people grumbled against Moses.

“Why then did you bring us up out of Egypt? To have us die of thirst with our children and our livestock?” they complained.

Moses cried out to God.

“What shall I do with this people? A little more and they will stone me!” he said.

God told Moses to take some of the elders of Israel and go ahead of the people. God also told him to hold in his hand the staff he had used to strike the Nile.

“I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb,” God said. “Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it for the people to drink.”

Moses did as God said, and water began to flow from the rock.


St. John Eudes

St. John Eudes was born in France in 1601, and he was ordained an Oratorian priest in 1623.

He spent 20 years preaching the basics of the faith across northern France, and he also served the sick during epidemics of the plague.

In 1643, he and some friends founded a new congregation devoted to training priests. The Congregation of Jesus and Mary, also called Eudists, was reconstituted after the French Revolution and today specializes in secondary education.

He also helped spread devotion to the Sacred Heart and was the first to call for an official feast day.

John died in 1680, and we remember him on Aug. 19.


Using the hints provided, put a T next to the sentences about Moses and the Israelites that are true and an F next to the ones that are false.

  1. ___ If manna was kept until morning, it became moldy. (Exodus 16:20)
  2. ___ No manna came from heaven on the Sabbath. (Exodus 16:25)
  3. ___ The Israelites ate manna for 35 years. (Exodus 16:35)
  4. ___ While in Rephidim, the Israelites fought against Amalek’s people. (Exodus 17:9)

Answers: 1. F; 2. T; 3. F; 4. T


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