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Where did Israel get bread in the wilderness?

by Stephen Davey

Kevin asks: If the children of Israel were eating manna in the wilderness, where did they get their bread for the showbread in the tabernacle in Exodus 40:23?


The Bible is not clear on this point and does not give any explicit instructions to the priests as to where the showbread is supposed to come from, or what the recipe is.

Based on historical context and a cultural understanding of food at that time, I can offer a couple suggestions, but not a definitive answer.

One option is that the Israelites brought grain with them from Egypt, and as they traveled through the wilderness, their grain stores began to run low. That would explain why God needed to provide the people with manna, and would also make the showbread, made from the limited supply of grain, a costly and rare item, just like the rest of the tabernacle.

The other option is that the showbread was made with ingredients from the manna. Numbers 11 says that the Israelites were already using manna to make cakes that tasted like, “cakes baked with oil” (Numbers 11:8). If this was the case, the showbread would be a continued reminder of the nation’s complete dependency on God to provide both their physical needs and their spiritual needs.

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grace yow says:
shabbat shalom, stephen in lev 24:7, we find the word translated translated "bread" is lechem (h3899) which is used of leavened bread and not "matzot" (h4682) for "unleavened" used by itself to mean unleavened bread or with the word "bread" or "cake" (h2471) to mean those that are unleavened. these 12 loaves of bread represented the twelve tribes of israel as the other 12 numbers of objects used in the temple represented the twelve tribes. just as the two loaves of bread as the wave sheaf offering represent jews and gentiles were leavened, the twelve loaves of bread representing the twelve tribes were leavened. as for what the bread were made of, lev 24:5 describes it as soleth (h5560) or fine flour. the first time manna was given by god to the israelites as on the 16th day of the second month after they left egypt. so, here was still grain for them to use in the tabernacle. yes, scriptures is the word of god. all questions on it need to be answered by it. if it is silent, we need to respect that. be blessed. grace