16:3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died6 by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by7 the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full,8 for you have brought us out into this desert to kill9 this whole assembly with hunger!”
tn The text reads: מִי־יִתֵּן מוּתֵנוּ (mi-yitten mutenu, “who will give our dying”) meaning “If only we had died.” מוּתֵנוּ is the Qal infinitive construct with the suffix. This is one way that Hebrew expresses the optative with an infinitive construct. See R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 91–92, §547.
tn The form is a Qal infinitive construct used in a temporal clause, and the verb “when we ate” has the same structure.
sn That the complaint leading up to the manna is unjustified can be seen from the record itself. They left Egypt with flocks and herds and very much cattle, and about 45 days later they are complaining that they are without food. Moses reminded them later that they lacked nothing (Deut 3:7; for the whole sermon on this passage, see 8:1–20). Moreover, the complaint is absurd because the food of work gangs was far more meager than they recall. The complaint was really against Moses. They crave the eating of meat and of bread and so God will meet that need; he will send bread from heaven and quail as well.
tn לְהָמִית (léhamit) is the Hiphil infinitive construct showing purpose. The people do not trust the intentions or the plan of their leaders and charge Moses with bringing everyone out to kill them.