The Manna Narrative Of Exodus 16:1-10 -- By: Paul Wayne Ferris, Jr.
JETS 18:3 (Summer 1975) p. 191
The Manna Narrative Of Exodus 16:1-10
The Purpose And Context Of The Narrative:
Within the larger context of the exodus-related events lies a section dealing with the troubles of the journey. Immediately preceding this section is Moses’ Song of the Exodus. Ex. 15:22 marks the transition from the praise of the foregoing to the murmuring, or more properly the breach of trust, that is to follow. The wayyîllonû of 15:24 sets the tenor of the passage now to follow.1 It begins at Marah over bitter water, continues into the Wilderness of Sin over the food, then on to Meribah over the lack of water, and to Rephidim and the confrontation with Amalek. Then follows the Jethro narrative and the appointing of “Judges.” The backdrop is colored by murmuring but the purpose of the narrative is to prepare the reader for the forthcoming establishment of the covenant.2
The text before us is didactic in nature. The history is selective, not exhaustive, and arranged for propaedeutic reasons, therefore not even necessarily chronological,3 though, insofar as toptmymy is concerned, it seems to follow a chronological progression. Indeed it appears that here, as Cassuto suggests, we have a didactic anthology arranged according to association of both content and language.4
The purpose, then, is to show that when the people arrived at ‘eres kena’an it was due entirely to the power and care of the Lord,5 as was
*Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Graduate School of Bible and Missions, Columbia, S.C. 29203
JETS 18:3 (Summer 1975) p. 192
entirely consonant with His covenantal purpose. 6 In other words, our section is a part of the “historical prologue” which typically sets out evidence of the benevolence of King to vassal in past relationships. The further development of the covenant is not within the scope of our discussion here. However, this much must be said: part of the covenant obligation is obedience and loyalty. This purpose must be driven home hard to the people. They must be made to see the ease with which they can violate the relationship as well as the vital import of maintaining that relationship. Thus this recounting of highlights of the past is provided to constrain the people to commitment and faithfuln...
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