Lesson 47: Exodus 16:1–17:7

“Lesson 47: Exodus 16:1–17:7,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 47,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 47

Exodus 16:1–17:7


Following the Israelites’ deliverance from bondage, Moses led the children of Israel to Mount Sinai. While on the journey, the Israelites murmured because of a lack of food. The Lord blessed the children of Israel with manna and instructed them to gather it every morning except on the Sabbath. The children of Israel also murmured because of thirst. The Lord commanded Moses to strike a rock in Horeb so that water would come forth.

Suggestions for Teaching

Exodus 16:1–36

Israel murmurs for bread, and the Lord sends quail and bread from heaven

Display a loaf or piece of bread. Invite a student who is hungry to come to the front of the class and eat some of the bread. As the student eats, ask him or her the following questions:

  • When did you last eat?

  • If you recently ate, why are you hungry now? Why do we have to eat regularly?

Explain that the Lord used our need to eat regularly to teach truths about developing spiritual strength. Invite students to look for these truths as they study Exodus 16–17.

Invite a student to read Exodus 16:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for the problem the children of Israel encountered as they continued on their journey to the promised land.

  • What problem did Israel face in the wilderness?

  • Whom did the children of Israel murmur against?

  • Even though the children of Israel had just been delivered from bondage, why did they wish they had died back in Egypt?

Invite a student to read Exodus 16:4–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord helped the Israelites with their lack of food. (You may need to explain that the word prove in verse 4 means “to test” [see footnote c].)

  • What specific instructions did the Lord give the people about gathering this bread from heaven?

  • According to verse 3, the Israelites likely had as much food as they desired while they were in Egypt. In what ways might gathering only a limited amount of bread each day have been a test for the children of Israel?

  • According to verse 4, what is one reason the Lord gives us commandments? (Students should identify the following principle: One reason the Lord gives us commandments is to test our obedience to Him.)

Explain that after Moses received these instructions from the Lord, Moses and Aaron addressed the people of Israel. Invite a student to read Exodus 16:6–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Moses and Aaron told the Israelites concerning their murmuring.

  • Based on what Moses and Aaron taught the people, whom are we also murmuring, or complaining, against when we murmur against Church leaders? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: When we murmur against Church leaders, we are also murmuring against the Lord. You may want to suggest that students mark the phrase that teaches this principle in verse 8.)

  • Why is murmuring against Church leaders also murmuring against the Lord?

Summarize Exodus 16:9–13 by explaining that even though the children of Israel had murmured, the Lord sent quail into the camp of the Israelites during the evening.

Invite a student to read Exodus 16:13–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord did the next morning for the Israelites. Invite students to report what they find. Point out the word manna in verse 15, and ask students to look at footnote a to find out what it means.

Divide the students into pairs. Ask each partnership to read Exodus 16:16–21, 31 together and discuss the following questions (you may want to write these questions on the board before class or provide students with copies of them):

  1. How much manna were the Israelites told to gather?

  2. What happened if they tried to save it until the next day?

  3. How often did the children of Israel need to gather the manna?

  4. According to verse 21, what happened to the manna that wasn’t gathered?

  5. What spiritual lessons can we learn from the Lord’s instructions about manna?

After sufficient time, invite students to share their answers to question 5 with the class. Write their responses on the board. As students share the principles they have identified, emphasize the following truths: If we rely on the Lord daily, He will bless us with the spiritual nourishment needed for that day. As we remember the Lord daily, our trust in Him will grow.

Media Icon
To help illustrate to students the importance of seeking spiritual nourishment daily, you may want to show the video “Daily Bread: Pattern” (2:52). In this video, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explains that our need for daily physical nourishment reminds us of our need for daily spiritual sustenance. This video can be found on

Instead of showing the video, you could provide students with a copy of the following statement by Elder Christofferson. Ask students to read the statement silently, underlining the Lord’s reasons for giving the children of Israel food one day at a time.

Christofferson, D. Todd

“By providing a daily sustenance, one day at a time, Jehovah was trying to teach faith to a nation that over a period of some 400 years had lost much of the faith of their fathers. He was teaching them to trust Him, to ‘look unto [Him] in every thought; doubt not, fear not’ (D&C 6:36). He was providing enough for one day at a time. Except for the sixth day, they could not store manna for use in any succeeding day or days. In essence, the children of Israel had to walk with Him today and trust that He would grant a sufficient amount of food for the next day on the next day, and so on. In that way He could never be too far from their minds and hearts” (“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” [Church Educational System fireside, Jan. 9, 2011];

  • According to Elder Christofferson, why did the Lord provide manna one day at a time?

Testify that the Lord will bless us as we remember Him daily.

  • What are some things we can do to remember the Lord daily? (Write students’ responses on the board.)

  • Why would remembering and seeking the Lord only one day a week fail to provide adequately for our spiritual needs throughout the rest of the week?

Invite students to consider the difference between times when they have remembered the Lord and sought Him daily and times when they have forgotten Him or not sought His strength and guidance each day.

  • What difference does it make in your life when you remember the Lord and seek Him daily?

Invite students to consider what they are doing to remember the Lord. Ask them to review the list on the board and ponder what they need to do every day to remember and seek the Lord. Encourage students to set a goal to remember the Lord and seek Him each day.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Exodus 16:22–26. Ask the class to follow along, looking for reasons why the Israelites needed to gather twice the amount of manna on the sixth day.

  • Why did the Israelites need to gather twice the amount of manna on the sixth day?

Invite a student to read Exodus 16:27–31 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how some people responded to the Lord’s command.

  • What did some people do even after being instructed to gather double on the sixth day? What do those actions reveal about these people?

  • How can resting on the Sabbath help us remember the Lord?

Summarize Exodus 16:32–36 by explaining that Moses commanded Aaron to place some manna in a pot so it could serve as a testimony, or reminder, for future generations of the Lord’s physical deliverance of the children of Israel and the need for Israel to rely on the Lord for spiritual sustenance. Later this pot was put in the ark of the covenant. The Lord continued to bless the children of Israel with manna as they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

Exodus 17:1–7

The Lord provides water for the Israelites

Invite a student to read Exodus 17:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for the additional hardship that the children of Israel faced in the wilderness.

  • What additional hardship did the children of Israel encounter?

  • Given the Israelites’ experiences with the manna and the quail, in what other way do you think the Israelites could have responded to this trial?

Invite students to read Exodus 17:5–7 silently and look for what the Lord told Moses to do. Ask students to report what they find.

Explain that just as the requirement to gather manna can symbolize what the Lord requires of us today, the account of Moses striking the rock also has a symbolic meaning. The scriptures sometimes refer to Jesus Christ as “the rock” (see 1 Corinthians 10:4; Helaman 5:12). Christ also refers to Himself as “the bread of life” (John 6:35) and a provider of “living water” (John 4:10).

  • How is Jesus Christ like a rock? How is He like bread? What does Jesus Christ provide that is like living water? What do these symbols teach us about the Savior?

  • What principles do you think the children of Israel could have learned about the Savior from their experiences with the manna and water? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but be sure to emphasize that the Lord is the source of all spiritual nourishment. Write this principle on the board.)

Invite students to share how partaking of the spiritual nourishment that Jesus Christ has offered them has blessed their lives.

Encourage students to set a goal to accept the spiritual nourishment the Savior offers by making a greater effort to seek the Lord and be nourished by God’s word daily, to serve Him, and to obey His commandments.

Note: Lesson 49 (Exodus 20, part 1) provides an opportunity for three students to teach. You may want to select three students now and give them copies of the designated portions of lesson 49 so they can prepare to teach them. Encourage them to study the lesson material prayerfully and seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost as they prepare to teach and adapt the lesson for their classmates.

Commentary and Background Information

Exodus 16. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life who gave manna to the children of Israel

Jesus Christ was the “bread of life” (John 6:35) that came down from heaven to give life to His people (see John 6:31–35). The manna given by Jehovah to nourish and save the children of Israel was a symbolic foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. Shortly after the Savior physically fed the 5,000 (see John 6), He referred to the account of God providing manna to teach that all people need to receive spiritual nourishment from the “living bread” (John 6:51) to obtain eternal life. The Savior taught, “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life” (John 6:54). Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained, “To eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God is, first, to accept him in the most literal and full sense, with no reservation whatever, as the personal offspring in the flesh of the Eternal Father; and, secondly, it is to keep the commandments of the Son by accepting his gospel, joining his Church, and enduring in obedience and righteousness unto the end. Those who by this course eat his flesh and drink his blood shall have eternal life, meaning exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:358).

Exodus 16:1–17:7. We are dependent on God

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles used the following analogy to teach about our dependence on God:

“Recently, Sister Nelson and I enjoyed the beauty of tropical fish in a small private aquarium. Fish with vivid colors and of a variety of shapes and sizes darted back and forth. I asked the attendant nearby, ‘Who provides food for these beautiful fish?’

“She responded, ‘I do.’

“Then I asked, ‘Have they ever thanked you?’

“She replied, ‘Not yet!’

“I thought of some people I know who are just as oblivious to their Creator and their true ‘bread of life’ [John 6:35, 48; see also verse 51]. They live from day to day without an awareness of God and His goodness unto them.

“How much better it would be if all could be more aware of God’s providence and love and express that gratitude to Him. … Our degree of gratitude is a measure of our love for Him” (“Thanks Be to God,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 77).

Exodus 16:1–17:7. Being spiritually nourished by God

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“We know that our physical bodies require certain nutrients to sustain life and to maintain physical and mental health. If we are deprived of those nutrients, our physical and mental vitality are impaired and we have a condition called malnutrition. Malnutrition produces such symptoms as reduced mental functions, digestive disorders, loss of physical strength, and impairment of vision. Good nutrition is especially important for children, whose growing bodies are easily impaired if they lack the nutrients necessary for normal growth.

“Our spirits also require nourishment. Just as there is food for the body, there is food for the spirit. The consequences of spiritual malnutrition are just as hurtful to our spiritual lives as physical malnutrition is to our physical bodies. Symptoms of spiritual malnutrition include reduced ability to digest spiritual food, reduced spiritual strength, and impairment of spiritual vision” (“Nourishing the Spirit,” Ensign, Dec. 1998, 7).