Quails Miracle Based in Fact and Fun to Share

Quails Miracle Based in Fact and Fun to Share October 10, 2023

Small brown bird resting in green grass
Quail resting on the ground [Picture courtesy of Pixabay.]

God’s provision of quails for the Israelites wandering in the wilderness and longing for meat is a familiar Old Testament miracle. While this miracle offers an entertaining story, it provides far more. Not only can an understanding of how the miracle likely happened enhance our appreciation of God’s creativity, but it can also offer a fun conversation starter to discuss your faith with others.

What’s A Miracle?

When considering miracles, a good starting point is to understand what one is. A miracle is an extraordinary and astonishing happening attributed to the action of a divine power. The Bible makes clear who that divine power is—it’s God. Psalm 77:14 (NIV) states: “You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.”

God didn’t stop with the miraculous creation of the world out of chaos and darkness. Once creation existed, He continued to step in to accomplish astonishing actions to show His love and care for His people. Keep that thought in mind next time you listen to or sing “Our God Is An Awesome God.” 

What Was the Miracle of the Quails?

The miracle of the quails is recounted in Exodus 16. The Israelites, led by Moses, had fled from slavery in Egypt. Now they wandered in the wilderness, and not a fast-food restaurant was in sight to satisfy their craving for some meat. Their stomachs grumbled, and so did they. Suddenly their recollection of Egypt became more positive. Why, they had sat around pots of meat there and ate all they wanted. Now God had brought them out into the desert to starve.

God heard the Israelites’ complaining and told Moses to advise them He would provide meat at twilight. Based on that result, He noted, they would know He was the Lord their God. And, as promised, that evening quails appeared and covered the camp. Dinner was served.

Just A Story?

God’s provision of quail filled the Israelites’ stomachs, but is the narrative simply a story with a happy ending? Is its veracity for the birds?

Today many may be tempted to disbelieve this event happened. According to Exodus 12:37, some 600,000 men alone were in the group of Israelites which left Egypt. Add in women and children, and over a million people, maybe even two, made up the band of wanderers in the wilderness. We believe God created the world, but could He really serve a last-minute quail dinner for over a million people?
In the abstract this story sounds fantastic, even though that’s what a miracle is supposed to be. But add in some facts, and the miracle becomes more believable and perhaps even more of one.

What’s A Quail?

The bird which this miracle focuses on is a small, plump-bodied member of the pheasant family about 7 inches long. The brown-feathered quail is known for its delicious meat and is thus hunted as a game bird. Quails spend most of their time on the ground. They are migratory birds which undertake this activity at night and in very large flocks. Quail may arrive at their destination exhausted since the heaviness of their bodies strains their wing strength. Given this deficit, they often fly with the wind.

Flock of birds migrating across blue sky
Flock of birds fill the sky as they migrate [Photo by Steve Nas on Pexels.]

Miracle Explained

The birds described in the Biblical account are believed to be the common migratory quail (Coturnix coturnix) which move northward from within Africa in the spring. Numbers 11:31 says that “a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea.” This description is in keeping with the fact that quail fly with the wind. Of course, the birds would have been exhausted from their long migration and could easily have been captured while resting on the ground. As they fly in large flocks, huge numbers of birds would have been available for the Israelites’ dining pleasure.

White plate filled with quail dinner
Plate containing quail dinner [Picture courtesy of Pixabay.]

Even Better Miracle

Simply because a factual explanation exists for the provision of quail to the Israelites doesn’t diminish the wonder of this miracle. Was it mere coincidence the Israelites grumbled for meat right when these birds were migrating? Isn’t it marvelous God didn’t supply just any meat but a delicious bird known and hunted for its taste? How kind was God to make things easy for the Israelites? The quail were worn out from their migration and taken without difficulty. He provided the Israelites with a tasty and convenient food.

These considerations make the event even more wonderous. It doesn’t detract from the miracle that the Creator used His knowledge of His creation to supply His people’s needs.

Something To Squawk About

Knowing the rest of the story about the quail miracle gives believers something to squawk about. A conversation about birds in general, and quail in particular, supplies a lead-in to talk about how God performed a miracle which took advantage of what He knew as the Creator. A fun conversation based on facts may be more effective in getting people’s attention and giving them (and us) a new perspective on God and His miracles.

About Alice H. Murray
After over 30 years as a Florida adoption attorney, Alice H. Murray now pursues a different path as Operations Manager for End Game Press. With a passion for writing, she is constantly creating with words. Her work includes contributions to several Short And Sweet books, The Upper Room, Chicken Soup For The Soul, Abba’s Lessons (from CrossRiver Media), and the Northwest Florida Literary Review. Alice is a regular contributor to GO!, a quarterly Christian magazine in the Florida Panhandle, and she has three devotions a month published online by Dynamic Women in Missions. Her devotions have also appeared in compilation devotionals such as Ordinary People Extraordinary God (July 2023) and Guideposts’ Pray A Word A Day, Vol. 2 (June 2023) and pray a word for Hope (September 2023). Alice’s first book, The Secret of Chimneys, an annotated Agatha Christie mystery, was released in April 2023 with a second such book, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, to be released in April 2025. On a weekly basis, Alice posts on her blog about current events with a humorous point of view at aliceinwonderingland.wordpress.com. You can read more about the author here.

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