In viewing the intial complaint, B'nai Yisra'el complained that there was no meat or bread in the desert. I was curious why they asked for meat, considering that they had so many animals and they could have slaughtered their own animals for meat.

Rash"i on Shemot 16:8 mentions this, also, and says that this was the reason why they had to trouble themselves to gather the quail at night, whereas the mahn (bread) was given to them more easily as it was already on the ground in the morning.

My question is a bit more "basic". Considering that they could have slaughtered the animals, why does G-d give them meat in the first place, when he could have said to Moshe, tell them to use their own animals?

Compare this, perhaps, to the incident mentioned in Beha'alotecha where they were punished for requesting meat.

  • You might want to look at the Ramban on the same page you link to. It gives a suggestion of the difference between the Mahn and other food. They were initially living the life of B'nai Olam HaBa, meaning being sustained without regular material food. But that is what they craved. Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 16:33
  • Dupe? judaism.stackexchange.com/q/76124/9682
    – DonielF
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 5:24

2 Answers 2


Ramban 16:8: "for Hashem will give you in the Evening meat to eat and you shall know that Hashem took you out of the land of Egypt. And when He gives bread in the morning to satiety then you will see the glory of Hashem"

בתת ה' לכם בערב בשר יפרש מאמרו הראשון, כי בתת ה' לכם בערב בשר לאכול וידעתם כי ה' הוציא אתכם מארץ מצרים, ובתתו לכם לחם בבקר לשבוע וראיתם את כבוד ה'


Therefore the reason for the miraculous meat would be as a reminder that Hashem took us out of Egypt. And it is also the opinion of our Sages the quail remained with them after the initial day as the manna remained with them.

The manna they had would be eaten to satiety and the meat would be only to eat but not to satiety. But they desired the meat to satiety in Beha'alotecha. (Ramban, Artscroll)

Or Chaim 16:3: "And they indicated to him with their words for even if he would tell them to slaughter their cattle and they would eat the meat this would not provide on an ongoing basis as they were accustomed (in Egypt) to eat bread and meat on a constant basis." (Partially translated with Artscroll, Or Chaim)

ורמזו לו בדבריהם כי הגם שיאמר להם שחטו ממקניכם ואכלו בשר זה לא יספיק בתמידות כאשר היו רגילים לאכול תמיד לחם ובשר


Artscroll also has a footnote for this verse in their newly released Or Chaim mentioning how their supply was limited and would be depleted.

  • 1
    I'll have a look at Ramba"n in greater depth. Offhand, I'm still disturbed by what seems like a lack of "discipline". I.e., G-d could have said, "You don't need meat from me; use what you already have."
    – DanF
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 14:56
  • 1
    This also addresses the question. chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/709027/jewish/…
    – code613
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 23:50

First, it’s possible that Israel had too much of the Egyptian ways in them, having been in captivity there for so many years. Egypt had a system in effect wherein they worshiped many animals, cattle among them. Soon after the exodus from Egypt, the children of Israel even worshiped a golden calf, fashioned by Aaron in the absence of Moses (Exodus 32:1–4). It’s possible they were so steeped in Egyptian ways that they couldn’t bring themselves to eat animals they worshiped.

Second, did they see their livestock as their source of income? They were shepherds, and they came from shepherds. No one would want to eat his source of income. Perhaps they were preserving their flocks and herds for when they came into the Promised Land and would once again be shepherds and herdsmen. If they ate up the source of all their income, they would be paupers and beggars in their new country. A third possibility is that they were just whining because they were tired of eating the same old thing all the time. Perhaps they just wanted some variety in their diet.


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