(KJV) Exodus 16:13-15

13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. 14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. 15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat

(KJV) Numbers 11:6

6 But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.

18 And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the LORD will give you flesh, and ye shall eat.

31 And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day's journey on this side, and as it were a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth.

It seems in Exodus the quail came first but in Numbers manna fell before the quail.

How can we reconcile the above texts?

  • I don't understand. The (consecutive) books of Moses (unlike the Gospels, for instance) do not treat the same events. You seem to be basically asking why two different events are different.
    – Lucian
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 15:34
  • @Lucian,It looks like the same event narrated differently Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 7:43
  • The chronology is rather explicit: Exodus ends at the end of the first year of wandering (40:17), Leviticus spans the first month of the second year, Numbers spans from the the second month of the second year (1:1) to the middle of the fortieth year (33:38), and Deuteronomy spans the end of the fortieth year (1:3). More precisely, Numbers 10:11 mentions the twentieth day of the second month of the second year.
    – Lucian
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 16:50

4 Answers 4


I believe there is a misunderstanding that would clear this entire situation up. The recording in Exodus 16 is when the people ran out of food shortly after running out of water. God had already made the waters sweet by the casting down of the tree into the bitter water. In this setting, God tells them He will provide quails that evening (covering their hunger of that day) and manna from there forward. The entire remainder of the chapter talks only of manna over the next week and beyond. The quails are not mentioned in any way. When we arrive in Numbers 11, all they have eaten in a long time is manna. This tells us that the quails were a one and done thing from Exodus 15 and only lasted that first night BEFORE the manna started. However, the people get grumpy and thus we have the incident of Numbers 11 where all manna is removed and ONLY quail meat is given. No contradiction, just someone has made an assumption that the quails were a permanent installment in Exodus 15, which there is no indication of in the text.

  • 1
    This is a fair answer, welcome to BH.SE. I only suggested an edit to remove the part about Christ, because it's not in the text and this site wants to be non-doctrinal, i.e., also suitable for Jews. (The edit summary is incorrect due to autocompletion.)
    – user2672
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 7:26
  • Thanks Keelan. I removed the reference to Jesus. However, for those interested (not trying to advertise, so please let me know if inappropriate), I do host a Facebook group called "Learn The Bible" where we start from Genesis 1 and do a verse by verse commentary of sorts and how the Old Testament does relate to Jesus (from a Christian perspective). All are welcome to come and comment, just request to join. We are currently into Exodus.
    – user23164
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 16:18
  • Removing irrelevant material is fair enough, but objecting to references to Jesus on a multifaith Bible Q&A site? Outrageous! Mi Yodeya is a Judaism-specific site where such expectation is valid.
    – wberry
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 19:30
  • Good insight thank you. Where do you get from the Numbers text “manna is removed”?
    – JLB
    Commented Feb 1 at 7:53

In v4 Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

and preceding verses do not talk about quails. Then comes v12, that they complained about no meat to eat.

Finally v13, "..it came to pass"

The order is already presented in the chapter itself that manna came first then quails.


Exodus 16 puts two events together: the manna and the quails. They receive the manna as they are going to mount Sinai, stay there for almost a year (without a few days-Exodus 19:1 and Numbers 10:11), and then they go to Kadesh Barnea. As they go there, they receive the quail according to Numbers 11. Because of their rebelious attitude and the request for food in both instances, Exodus 16 puts the two events together. Numbers 11 clarifies that the quail comes in year 2 while the manna started falling in year 1. Numbers 11:6 states they were fed up (literally) with manna. They had been eating it for a whole year. That's why they ask for meat on the menu.

  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I also recommend going through the Help Center's sections on both asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 13:39

Moses says in Num 11:13 'Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, Give us meat to eat!’ If there were two different quail events then why doesn't Moses remember that the Lord will bring quail for them? If he has forgotten that just a year before then maybe has he forgotten other events. So can anything he writes be taken as factual? Or, Exodus 16 and Num 11 are just the same story told slightly different. Num 11 may not be an extension of Num 10. In Num 10 they travel 3 days then camp. There is no place they can reach near the sea shore after 3 days travel from Mt. Sinai to Kadesh.

  • Very unclear answer. You should read the guidelines and properly express yourself so people can understand what you are communicating. Better not to answer at all than be to lazy to properly explain your thoughts with some measure of thouroughness.
    – JLB
    Commented Feb 1 at 7:29

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