Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Exodus 16:1-18

This passage occurs in the Narrative Lectionary, Year 4, most recently Oct 2013.

Summary:  This is such a rich theological text.  It gets at the heart of God's abundance amid human selfishness.  Our response to God's abundance:  To misunderstand it or eventually, to hoard it (vs 20).  Yet God is faithful and continues to provide, over and against our complaints and our disobedience.  As a side note, I think John 6 is Jesus' last supper/passover meal in his Gospel.

נסח ("test", Exodus 16:4)  God lists a number of motives here for his action:  Their complaints and their understanding of his power (12) but also this notion of testing.  This harkens back to Abraham; this test though the community will fail, as they will just about everything in the wilderness.

מן ("Manna", Exodus 16:31, simply comes from the Hebrew for "What is it", kind of like "what the?"

פה  ("mouth", Exodus 16:16, 18, 21)  In order to describe how much a person should gather, the Bible commands "to a man a mouth he eats to pick."  In otherwords, a mouthful.  This is a very small amount, especially by American standards!

לקט ("glean", Exodus 16:4, 5, 16, 17, 18 and elsewhere)  The word can mean collect, but its use the in Hebrew Bible suggests more of a gleaning action.  In Leviticus, people are instructed to leave food on the crops so that the poor might glean; Ruth then is able to glean with the others who are poor.

שבע ("satisfy", Exodus 16:3, 8, 12)  The point of God's provision is not simply that we could eeke out an existance, but that we would have abundance.  The Psalms remind us (104:13):  The earth is full/satisfied with the fruit of your work.  Furthermore, Deuteronomy 31:10 warns of becoming too full!  America is a land of both great scarcity and abundance that attests to both the words of Psalms and Deuteronomy.

כבוד ("glory", Exodus 16:7, 10)  The Narrative lectionary pairs these OT readings with the Gospel of John. This week they went with the Bread of Life texts.  They could have just as easily gone with John 1 and the image of God's glory "dwelling" among us, not in a tabernacle in the wilderness, but in the midst of Jesus Christ.

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