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Exodus 16:27 NIV

27 Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you[c] refuse to keep my commands and my instructions?

In the above text we find some people who went to collect manna after clearly being instructed not to do so.There is no record of them being punished for violating the Sabbath law.

But later another man violated the Sabbath law and was punished

Numbers 15:33 NIV

33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses.

What was the difference between these violations?

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  • 1
    Perhaps they were and it is not recorded? – Dottard Jul 22 '20 at 8:02
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At the time of Exodus 16:27, there was no prescription of punishment for violating the Sabbath except sin offerings. That changed in Exodus 35

1 Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the Lord has commanded you to do: 2For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. 3Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

After that, they continued their journey and celebrated the 2nd Passover in Num 15

1 In the first month of the second year after Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, the LORD spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai: 2“The Israelites are to observe the Passover at its appointed time. 3You are to observe it at the appointed time, at twilight on the fourteentha day of this month, in accordance with its statutes and ordinances.”

4So Moses told the Israelites to observe the Passover, 5and they did so in the Wilderness of Sinai, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. The Israelites did everything just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Some months later, in Num 15

32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” 36So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses.

Why were the Sabbath breakers not punished in Exodus 16:27-28?

Because God didn't stipulate a punishment at the time and He only did it later.

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  • This does not answer the question. Why was the man stoned after gathering sticks ? There was no provision (at the time) for death. The reason for the death was his action. So that does not explain the non-action previously. There could have been a convocation and a decision made (regarding looking for mannah) to stone those who looked for mannah. The reason for the would-be gatherers of mannah not being stoned is not the non-existence of a death penalty. No death penalty existed when the man gathered sticks. This answer is not logical. – Nigel J Jul 23 '20 at 6:22
  • @NigelJ in Exodus 16 they had just been given the law but had not ratified it, it is only in Exodus 24:6-7 that they agreed to uphold the law. – collen ndhlovu Jul 23 '20 at 7:31
  • @collenndhlovu So are you saying they were guilty in looking for mannah, but went unpunished due to "non-ratification" ? – Nigel J Jul 23 '20 at 7:59
  • @NigelJ In Exodus 16:28 God says to Moses after this incident, they are refusing to keep my commandments and laws.They did violate his law because they went out with the intention to collect manna. – collen ndhlovu Jul 23 '20 at 9:00
  • @collenndhlovu I take your point. It's a good question and an instructive one. Thank you for posting it. – Nigel J Jul 23 '20 at 9:22
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The argument is about the difference between will and subsequent action.

The Numbers' (15:33) Israelite man had the will to gathering wood, as well as performed the action to gather wood.

The Israelite individuals mentioned in Exo 16:27 had only the will, since the circumstances did not allow them to perform the action of gathering manna. So, since the Mosaic's Law did not punish the intention, or idea, these latter Israelites were very lucky to not losing their lives.

Now, in the New Covenant 'realm', Messiah Jesus teaches us - now - to pay attention primarily to our thoughts (= heart), because out of them (Mat 5:27-30; 15:19) come a lot of 'defiling things'. God will judges us also for them, if we are not repented of them.

I hope this answer to your question.

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  • This is the logical answer. – Lucian Sep 13 '20 at 18:03
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If nothing was found on the sabbath, then no work was done in carrying it back to the tents.

Therefore, the sabbath was not violated (in any way which could be proved).

All that happened was that some people went for a walk on the sabbath.

And, having found nothing, they may not have admitted what it was they were actually doing.

In which case, again, no violation could be proven.

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  • An obvious answer to a trivial question. – Lucian Sep 13 '20 at 18:04
  • @Lucian Through familiarity with the traditions which we are brought up in, many things are not obvious in scripture (until it is pointed out to us). I think this situation is widespread throughout Christendom and I am certainly not an exception, myself. – Nigel J Sep 13 '20 at 18:37

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