I love this annotation from the SAB for Exodus 16:8 “When the people complain to Moses, he tells them they aren’t complaining about him, but about God, making them apostates and heretics, and therefore deserve severe punishment. Religious leaders have used this tactic ever since.” Well put!
So what exactly was manna (if it existed as an actual food). There’s an interesting discussion in Wikipedia. Main contenders are ‘resin from the tamarisk tree’ and/or ‘the crystallized honeydew of certain scale insects, especially the Tamarisk manna scale (Trabutina mannipara)’. Sounds yummy – NOT! And the Israelites ate it for 40 years! (16:35) while wandering in the desert, on a journey that, even in those days, should have taken a few weeks (more on that later).
Interesting spin by the translators of the NLT in Exodus 17:6. Translated from Hebrew, the second sentence reads “And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. ” And the reader is left hanging – did it work? The KJV and the NIV make no assumptions. But the NLT interprets this clause as “So Moses struck the rock as he was told, and water gushed out as the elders looked on.” Wishful thinking?
Moses gets some wise advice from his father-in-law about management and delegation. Seems to me that what this chapter really describes is a step in the rudimentary development of organized communities – ie the beginnings of civilization.