He that had gathered much, had nothing over - On the passage to which the apostle alludes, Exodus 16:18, I have stated that, probably, every man gathered as much manna as he could, and when he brought it home and measured it by the omer, (for this was the measure for each man's eating), if he had a surplus it went to the supply of some other family that had not been able to collect enough; the family being large, and the time in which the manna might be gathered, before the heat of the day, not being sufficient to collect a supply for so numerous a household; several of whom might be so confined as not to be able to collect for themselves. Thus there was an equality among the Israelites in reference to this thing; and in this light these words of St. Paul lead us to view the passage. To apply this to the present case: the Corinthians, in the course of God's providence, had gathered more than was absolutely necessary for their own support; by giving the surplus to the persecuted and impoverished Christian Jews these would be an equality; both would then possess the necessaries of life, though still the one might have more property than the other.
As it is written - see Exodus 16:18.
He that had gathered much - This passage was originally applied to the gathering of manna by the children of Israel. The manna which fell around the camp of Israel was gathered every morning. All that were able were employed in gathering it; and when it was collected it was distributed in the proportion of an omer, or about five pints to each man. Some would be more active and more successful than others. Some by age or infirmity would collect little; probably many by being confined to the camp would collect none. They who had gathered more than an omer, therefore, would in this way contribute to the needs of others, and would be constantly manifesting a spirit of benevolence. And such was their willingness to do good in this way, such their readiness to collect more than they knew would be demanded for their own use, and such the arrangement of Providence in furnishing it, that there was no want; and there was no more gathered than was needful to supply the demands of the whole.
Paul applies this passage, therefore, in the very spirit in which it was originally penned. He means to say that the rich Christians at Corinth should impart freely to their poorer brethren. They had gathered more wealth than was immediately necessary for their families or themselves. They should, therefore, impart freely to those who had been less successful. Wealth, like manna, is the gift of God. It is like that spread by his hand around us every day. Some are able to gather much more than others. By their skill, their health, their diligence, or by providential arrangements, they are eminently successful. Others are feeble, or sick, or aged, or destitute of skill, and are less successful. All that is obtained is by the arrangement of God. The health, the strength, the skill, the wisdom by which we are enabled to obtain it, are all his gift. That which is thus honestly obtained, therefore, should be regarded as his bounty, and we should esteem it a privilege daily to impart to others less favored and less successful.
Thus, society will be bound more closely together. There will be, as there was among the Israelites, the feelings of universal brotherhood. There will be on the one hand the happiness flowing from the constant exercise of the benevolent feelings; on the other the strong ties of gratitude. On the one hand the evils of poverty will be prevented, and on the other the not less. though different evils resulting from superabundant wealth. Is it a forced and unnatural analogy also to observe, that wealth, like manna, corrupts by being kept in store? manna if kept more than a single day became foul and loathsome. Does not wealth hoarded up when it might be properly employed; wealth that should have been distributed to relieve the needs of others, become corrupting in its nature, and offensive in the sight of holy and benevolent minds? Compare James 5:2-4. Wealth, like manna, should be employed in the service which God designs - employed to diffuse everywhere the blessings of religion, comfort, and peace.
At nightfall the camp was surrounded by vast flocks of quails, enough to supply the entire company. In the morning there lay upon the surface of the ground “a small round thing, as small as the hoarfrost.” “It was like coriander seed, white.” The people called it “manna.” Moses said, “This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.” The people gathered the manna, and found that there was an abundant supply for all. They “ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it.” Numbers 11:8. “And the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” They were directed to gather daily an omer for every person; and they were not to leave of it until the morning. Some attempted to keep a supply until the next day, but it was then found to be unfit for food. The provision for the day must be gathered in the morning; for all that remained upon the ground was melted by the sun. PP 295.1
In the gathering of the manna it was found that some obtained more and some less than the stipulated amount; but “when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack.” An explanation of this scripture, as well as a practical lesson from it, is given by the apostle Paul in his second epistle to the Corinthians. He says, “I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: as it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.” 2 Corinthians 8:13-15. PP 295.2
On the sixth day the people gathered two omers for every person. The rulers hastened to acquaint Moses with what had been done. His answer was, “This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.” They did so, and found that it remained unchanged. “And Moses said, Eat that today; for today is a Sabbath unto the Lord: today ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.” PP 295.3Read in context »