“When Israel was in the wilderness for forty years, where did they get the animals for their sacrifices to God?”
When Moses initially asked Pharaoh to let Israel go into the wilderness for just three days to sacrifice to God, Pharaoh asked, “who are they that shall go?” (Ex. 10:8). Moses replied, “We will go… with our flocks and with our herds” (v. 9).
The answer to your follow-up question, “Did they grow crops to feed those animals?” is that they were all grazing animals (Ex. 34:3) that fed on the grass found wherever they went.
When you also ask why they needed quails to eat flesh if they had those animals, we know that they didn’t eat their animals, for when they tired of manna and eggs from their flocks, “the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?” (Num. 11:4). God replied in anger,
“The Lord will give you flesh, and ye shall eat… a whole month” (v. 18,20).
Moses wondered how God was going to make good on that promise, and asked God, “Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?” (v. 22). That shows that their animals wouldn’t have lasted a month if they started eating them. They milked their cattle, they didn’t eat them.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.