Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Why manna instead of cattle?

Why did God feed the Israelites manna in the wilderness if they had cattle with them before and after they wandered 40 years?

Jeff

ANSWER:

Jeff:

It is true that they had cattle, yet they wanted meat and bread to eat (Exodus 16:3). God gave them quail and manna, the latter being a bread like food. In Numbers 11:4, the complaint was, “And the rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, ‘Who will give us meat to eat?” 

So, how can we resolve this dilemma? There are two ways.

1. One, they did not have enough cattle and livestock to supply all their wants. According to the scholars Kiel and Delitzsch in their comments on Numbers 11, cattle could not be bought for slaughtering, and they needed to spare what herds they did have. They were in a desert, and the lack of food would deplete the herds. Later their herds were greatly replenished when Moses defeated the Midianites and took as plunder 72,000 head of cattle (Numbers 31:33). 

2. A second explanation is that the Israelites had enjoyed a very good diet while in Egypt. Their elaborate menu is partially explained in Numbers 11:5. Remember, they said, “who will give us meat?” Well, they had the quail to eat; consequently, they did have meat. It just wasn’t good enough for them. Their disgust and greed is reflected when they said, “There is nothing at all to look at except this manna” (Numbers 11:6). 

It is like eating elegant foods at a first class restaurant, and then having to switch to McDonalds. After while the food gets pretty boring, especially when thinking about the delicate dishes prepared by world class chefs in five star hotels that had been your daily diet for years. This was the problem of the Israelites. 

Finally, one must not overlook the spiritual lessons on faith and obedience that God was teaching them. 

Jeff, I hope this helps. All the best, and God bless.

Dr. Newman

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