Exodus 16–17

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 75–76


It had been just one month since the children of Israel left Egypt (see Exodus 16:1). In spite of their continued murmuring, the Lord continued His patient guardianship over His newly freed children, miraculously supplying their needs and strengthening them against their enemies.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

Exodus 16–17. The miracles of the water, manna, and quail teach us about the Lord and how He deals with His children. Applying the principles of those stories can help us grow closer to Him. (10–15 minutes)

Ask students why people complain or murmur against what the Lord wants them to do. After discussing this question, ask them what they know about the Lord that makes murmuring against Him really quite foolish. Tell students that they are going to study some experiences of Moses and the children of Israel that teach us about the Lord and how He deals with His children and can help us be more faithful.

Divide the students into three groups and assign each group one of the following scriptures:

Have each group study their scripture and report on the following:

  • What they learned about the Lord’s interaction with the children of Israel.

  • How we can apply what was learned to increase our faith and strengthen our desire to obey the Lord without murmuring.

During this activity you may want to go from group to group to help them. After the groups present their reports, share your insights or testimony of what you learned from these scripture stories.

Exodus 16:1–17:7. The Lord taught many lessons with the miracles of the water, manna, and quail. (20–30 minutes)

Ask students to imagine they were in charge of feeding a large group of people who will be traveling in a desert for many years. Ask them what they would do if they could not bring all the food and water they needed and there would be no place to buy any along the way. After a brief discussion of the problems involved in this task, ask: How is this like the problem Moses faced in feeding the children of Israel in the desert?

Write Exodus 16:1–13; Exodus 16:14–31; and Exodus 17:1–7 on the board. Divide the students into three groups and have each group read one of the scriptures and report their answers to the following questions:

  • What was the miracle?

  • What lessons did the children of Israel learn?

  • How do those lessons apply to us today?

Ask the class how those miracles symbolized the Savior. Have them read John 6:48–51 and identify who the Bread of Life is. Read 3 Nephi 20:8–9 and ask them how the Lord is providing spiritual food and water to the members of His Church. Be sure students understand that while miracles can strengthen the testimony of believers, they do not give testimonies to unbelievers. Share your testimony of the Lord’s love for us and that if we are faithful He will provide for our spiritual and temporal needs.

Exodus 17:8–13. We should sustain those the Lord calls to lead the Church. (15–20 minutes)

Have a student come to the front of class. Ask if the student is willing to “support and uphold” the Bible. When he or she answers “yes,” say how pleased you are and that you will provide an opportunity to demonstrate that support.

Have the student hold a Bible in each hand and raise them out from his or her sides until they are at eye level. Tell the student that if he or she can hold the Bibles in that position for fifteen minutes, it would be a great example to the rest of the class. When the student starts to tire, ask if he or she would like some help holding the Bibles up. Invite two other students to come and hold up the first student’s arms. Ask:

  • How long would you be able to hold the Bibles up if someone else supported your arms?

  • How long could you last by yourself?

After the students return to their seats, have the class read Exodus 17:8–13. Ask:

  • Why did Moses need to hold up his arms?

  • Putting yourself in Moses’ place, how would you feel about Aaron and Hur during this time?

  • Who would be like Aaron and Hur today with our modern prophet? (The counselors in the First Presidency.)

Share your testimony of the weight of responsibility the prophet has. Ask:

  • Who else, along with his counselors, helps him carry that weight? (General Authorities, local leaders, and all Church members.)

  • How do we show our support of the prophet? (see D&C 43:12; 93:51; 107:22).

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 21:4–6 and discover what happens to us as a people when we sustain in word and action our living prophets. Ask:

  • How is that like what happened to the Israelites when Aaron and Hur upheld Moses’ arms?

  • How do people fail to support the prophet?

Have students read Exodus 16:8 and give careful attention to what it means to murmur against the prophet (see also D&C 1:38). Encourage them to support the prophet by keeping the Lord’s commandments and fulfilling their own callings now and throughout their lives.