Story Twenty-Four

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 6
WHEN the children of Ĭś̝ ra-el came out of Ḗ ġy̆pt it was their aim to go at once to the land of Cā́ năan, from which their fathers had come. The shortest road was that following the shore of the Great Sea, and entering Cā́ năan on the southwest. But in this region lived the Phĭ-lĭś tĭnes̝, a strong and warlike people; and the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes, after ages of slavery, were not fit to carry on war. The other way was by the southeast, through the desert of Mount Sī́ nāi, where Mṓ s̝es̝ knew the land, for it was there that he had been a shepherd for many years.
So the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes, led by the pillar of cloud and fire turned to the southeast, directly toward the Red Sea, which rolled between them and the desert. In a very few days they came to the shore of the sea, with the water before them, and high mountains on each side.
As soon as the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes had left their homes, and were on the march, King Phā́ raōh was sorry that he had let them go; for now they would no more be his servants and do his work. Word came to Phā́ raōh that the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes were lost among the mountains, and held fast by the sea in front of them. Phā́ raōh called out his army, his chariots, and his horsemen, and followed the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes, intending either to kill them, or to bring them back. Very soon the army of Ḗ ġy̆pt was close behind the host of Ĭś̝ ra-el, and the hearts of the people were filled with fear. They cried to Mṓ s̝es̝, saying:
"Why did you bring us out into this terrible place, shut in by the mountains and the sea, and with our enemies close behind us? It would be better to serve the Ē-ġy̆ṕ tians̝, than to die here in the wilderness!”
"Fear not," answered Mṓ s̝es̝. "Stand still, and see how God will save you. As for the Ḗ ġy̆ṕtians̝, whom you now see following you, you will see them no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall stand still and see your, enemies slain." That night the pillar of fire, which was before the host of Ĭś̞ ra-el went behind them, and stood between the camp of the Ē˗ġy̆ṕ tians̞ and the camp of the Ĭś̞ ra-el-ītes. To Ĭś̞ ra-el it was bright and dazzling with the glory of the Lord, but to the Ē-ġy̆ṕ tians̝ it was dark and terrible; and they dared not enter it.
And all that night there blew over the sea a mighty east wind, so that the water was blown away, and when the morning came there was a ridge of dry land between water on one side and water on the other, making a road across the sea to the land beyond, and on each side of the road the water lay in great lake; as if to keep their enemies away from them.
Then Mó̄ s̝es̝ told the people to go forward, and tile pillar of cloud again went before them; and the people followed, a great army. They walked across the Red Sea as on dry land, and passed safely over into the wilderness on the other side. So God brought his people out of Ḗ ġy̆pt, into a land that they had never seen.
When the Ē-ġy̆ṕ tians̝ saw them marching into the sea„ they followed, with their chariots and their horses. But the sand was no longer hard; it had become soft, and their chariot-wheels were fastened in it, and many of them broke off from the chariots. And the horses became mired, and fell down, so that the army was in confusion; and all were frightened. The soldiers cried out:
"Let us fly from the face of the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes! The Lord is fighting for them, and against us!”
By this time, all the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes had passed through the Red Sea, and were standing on the high ground beyond it, looking at their enemies slowly struggling through the sand, all in one heaped up mass of men, and horses, and chariots. Then Mṓ s̞es̞ lifted up his hand, and at once a great tide of water swept up from the sea on the south; the road over which the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes had walked in safety was covered with water; and the host of Phā́ raōh, with all his chariots and his horses and their riders were drowned in the sea, before the eyes of the people of Ĭś̝ ra-el. They saw the dead bodies of the Ē-ġy̆ṕ tians̞ tossed up by the waves on the shore.
Mṓ s̞es̞ wrote a great song, and all the people sang it together, over their great victory, which God had wrought for them. It began thus:
"I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously
The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea,
The Lord is my strength and song,
And he is become my salvation."
And now the people of Ĭś̝ ra-el were no longer in a level land, with fields of grain, and abundance of food, and streams of water, They were in the great desert, with a rocky path under them, and mountains of rock rising all around, with only a few springs of water, and these far apart. Such a host of men, and women and children, with their flocks, would need much water, and they found very little.
They saw in the distance some springs of water, and ran to drink of it, for they were very thirsty. But when they tasted, they found it bitter, so that they could not drink it. Then the people cried to Mṓ s̝es̝ and Mṓ s̝es̝ cried to the Lord; and the Lord showed Mṓ s̝es̝ a tree, and told him to cut it down and throw it into the water. Mṓ s̝es̝ did so, and then the water became fresh, and pure, and good, so that the people could drink it. This place they named Mā́ rah, a word which means "bitterness," because of the water which they found there.
After passing Mā́ rah, they came to another and more pleasant place, where they saw twelve springs of fresh water, and a grove of seventy palm-trees' around them. And there they rested under the cool shade.
But soon they were in a hot desert of sand, which lies between the waters of Ḗ lim and Mount Sī́ nāi; and again they were in great trouble, for there was no food for such an army of people.
Then Mṓ s̝es̝ called upon God, and the Lord said, "I will rain bread from heaven upon you; and you shall go out and gather it every day.”
The next morning when the people looked out of their tents, they saw all around the camp, on the sand, little white flakes, like snow or frost. They had never seen anything like it before, and they said, just as anybody would say, "What is it?" In the language of the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes, the Hebrew language, "What is it?" is the word "Manhu." So the people said to one another "Manhu? Manhu?" And this gave a name afterward to what they saw, the name Manna.
And Mṓ s̝es̝ said to them, "This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. Go out and gather it, as much as you need. But take only as much as you need for to-day, for it will not keep; and God will give you more to-morrow.”
So the people went out, and gathered the manna. They cooked it in various ways, baking it and boiling it; and the taste of it was like wafers flavored with honey. Some took more than they needed, not trusting God's word that there would be more on the next day. But that which was left over, after it was gathered, spoiled, and smelled bad, so that it was useless. This was to teach the people that each day they should trust God for their daily bread.
But the manna which was left on the ground did not spoil. When the sun came up, it melted away, just like frost or snowflakes. Before the sixth day of the week came, Moses said to the people:
"To-morrow, on the sixth day of the week, take twice as much manna as usual; for the next day is the Lord's Sabbath, the day of rest, and the manna will not come on that day.”
So the next morning, all the people went out as before to gather the manna. On that day, they found that the manna which was not used did not spoil, but kept fresh until the next morning.
On the Sabbath-day, some of the people who had failed to hear Mṓ s̝es̝, and had not gathered the manna in advance for the Sabbath, went out, and they could find none. So that day, these people had nothing to eat; and all Ĭś̞ ra-el learned the lesson, which we also should remember, that one day in each week belongs to God, and is to be kept holy to the Lord.
All the time that the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes lived in the wilderness, which was forty years, they ate the manna which God gave them day by day. Not until they entered the land of Cā́ năan, did the manna cease to fall.
Do you remember who it was, long after this, that said "I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me, shall never thirst"?