Q. When the Hebrews left Egypt, they took their herds with them. Why didn’t they eat their flocks instead of complaining and receiving manna? Also, how long did they receive manna?
A. It seems that the Children of Israel did eat meat from cattle and other clean animals that they had with them (Exodus 17:3; 34:3). The law, given on their journey, specified which animals could be eaten, while it specified others that were forbidden (Leviticus 11). Of course, animals were largely used in sacrificial offerings too (Exodus 24:5; Leviticus 8:31; 9:4: 10:12, etc.). The Israelites were also given quail along the way (Exodus 16:13; Numbers 11:31), they drank water (Exodus 15:27; 17:5–7; etc.), and they made food cakes from flour for sacrifices (Leviticus 24:5; Numbers 7:13–19, etc.).
Some Bible students believe that since more than .5 million people came out of Egypt into the wilderness to trek for more than 40 years, their cattle would not have given them all the food they needed for that period. Therefore, God gave them manna. This view may have some truth, but more importantly, I believe, God was demonstrating through the miracle of manna that those people were to depend on Him alone, not only for their food but for everything else. God gave them exactly the amount they needed. If they gathered too much, the manna spoiled. If they gathered too little, they would go without.
Manna is a type of the Lord Jesus, as we read in John 6:31–35. Jesus is the bread of life.
The Bible indicates that the Israelites received manna from the time it was first given to them (Exodus 16:15) until they crossed over into the Promised Land (Joshua 5:12), where they could eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan, their new home.
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