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Jabez and the Manna

Jabez knew that he was smart. He was fast with his hands, too. When Mother and the rest of the family picked vegetables in the garden back in Egypt, Jabez could pick faster and bring in the biggest basket. Mother said that it was good to be fast at things, but one should be unselfish and help others. Jabez did not like to think about that.

He knew how to make a trade, too. When Obed found a rock with yellow and red stripes, Jabez knew right away that all of the boys would want it. “I’ll show you where I found the clear, crystal rocks if you’ll give it to me,” Jabez told Obed. Everyone had wanted the crystal rocks before, but when Jabez got the rock with stripes all the boys wanted it. Soon Jabez had a treasure box that was overflowing with the boys’ most valuable things.

Daddy said that a good trade was where both were happy, but Jabez really thought that a good trade was where he was happy. Jabez thought he made a lot of good trades.

When everyone crossed the Red Sea, Jabez was glad that he would not have to be a slave in Egypt when he was grown up. Every day Daddy gave thanks that God had delivered them from the hand of Pharaoh. “We should be thankful for what we have,” Daddy said when many began to complain. But Jabez didn’t care about the problems; he had discovered lots of ways to make better trades all the time.

One morning, everyone came out of their tents and saw an amazing sight. It looked as if it had snowed. But it wasn’t snow at all. Everyone was saying, “What is it?” In the language which Jabez and the rest of the Israelites spoke, this is said: “Manna?” So the white stuff was called manna. It was food from God up in heaven and it tasted very good, like wafers made with honey.

Everyone was gathering baskets of the manna everywhere. “Wow!” Jabez thought. “I had better get this stuff while I can.” He filled the back of the tent with baskets of manna. He filled the area behind the tent with baskets of manna. He even made a deal with Seth to use his ragged old tent to store more baskets of manna.

By the time that the manna on the ground melted, Jabez was awfully tired. He had gathered ten times more manna than anybody else in the whole Israelite nation. But who knew if there would be any more manna again? Daddy looked at all the rows of manna-filled baskets and shook his head. “Didn’t you listen to what Moses, the man of God, said?”

The next morning, the manna was there again. Everybody was gathering manna except Jabez. “I’ll just wait until some lazy person comes along to trade for my manna,” he thought smugly. Sure enough, Naphtali came with a little gold chain in his hand. He made a deal for five baskets. But when Jabez went to get five baskets, he was horrified. All of the manna he had saved was bad! It smelled terrible, and there were even little worms in it!

Foolish Jabez! God can not be outsmarted. “As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over, and he that had gathered little had no lack.”* (2 Corinthians 8:15)

If you want to read more about the story of the manna, you will find it in Exodus 16.