What was Manna?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Helen, Aug 22, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    My husband and I got interested in manna last night and spent several hours tracking everything we could. There are all kinds of ideas about what it was, but we found something wrong with just about everyone of them. First of all, though, here is a good summary of some of the material concerning the Exodus from this website: http://www.geographia.com/egypt/sinai/biblicalsinai01.htm

    Barry told me he had heard of the tamarisk being the possible source of the manna, so I started looking it up on the net. I was amazed at how many sermons and essays discussed manna as being the product of the tamarisk, but there were different explanations. What was going on? Then I found THIS page:

    Well, THAT explained why different ministers and essay writers gave different ideas about the manna, but were these plants named manna AFTER the Israelites were in the desert as a nice, natural explanation for what Moses found on the ground each morning.

    Here is one of the essays that was so sure about it:


    The problem with the tamarisk explanation is that these plants only yield this resinous material for a few months a year! And why would they have stopped each Sabbath? The following quote helps explain a little trouble here:

    It is true, however, that extraordinary things were happening with the environment – but were they extraordinary enough to keep that manna coming out of those shrubs for forty years? Sabbaths excluded? Variability is one thing, but that going on for forty years straight goes past simple variability.

    And didn’t the manna come from the sky?

    That part, as it turned out, was “not necessarily.” The manna was associated with the dew, for when the dew dried, these flakes were left. Did the people then think the dew came from the sky? They might have, and this might have given rise to the idea that the manna came from heaven. In Numbers 11:9, we read (NIV) “When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.” The King James reads, “And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.” Whether this is translator error in believing dew ‘falls’ or whether Moses’ error in not knowing, I don’t know. But this concept of the dew and manna ‘falling’ seems to have been adopted rather quickly if it did not begin there. In Psalm 78:23-24, we read (NIV), “Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens,
    He rained down manna for the people to eat,
    He gave them the grain of heaven.


    And later in Jewish history we read from Josephus:

    But presently after this first supply of food [the quail], he sent them a second; for as Moses was lifting up his hands in prayer, a dew fell down; and Moses, when he found it stick to his hands, supposed this was also come for food from God to them: he tasted it; and perceiving that the people knew not what it was, and thought it snowed, and that it was what usually fell at that time of year, he informed them that this dew did not fall from heaven after the manner they imagined, but came for their preservation and sustenance. So he tasted it, and gave them some of it, that they might be satisfied about what he told them. They also imitated their conductor, and were pleased with the food, for it was like honey in sweetness and pleasant taste, but like in its body to bdellium, one of the sweet spices, and in bigness equal to coriander seed. And very earnest they were in gathering it; but they were enjoined to gather it equally; the measure of an omer for each one every day, because this food should not come in too small a quantity, lest the weaker might not be able to get their share, by reason of the overbearing of the strong in collecting it. However these strong men when they had gathered more than the measure appointed for them, had no more than others, but only tired themselves more in gathering it, for they found no more than an omer apiece; and the advantage they got by what was superfluous was none at all, it corrupting, both by the worms breeding in it, and by its bitterness. So divine and wonderful a food was this! It also supplied the want of other sorts of food to those that fed on it; and even now, in all that place, this manna comes down in rain, according to what Moses then obtained of God, to send to the people for their sustenance. Now the Hebrews call this food manna; for the particle ‘man’, in our language, is the asking of a question, ‘What is this?’ So the Hebrews were very joyful at what was sent them from heaven. Now they made use of this food for forty years, or as long as they were in the wilderness.
    Josephus, “The Antiquities of the Jews”, Book 3, chapter 1:6

    So from Moses we get that it appeared WITH the dew and that the dew came down. But if it was dew, it didn’t come down, and so perhaps the manna did not either.

    Which causes us to look at the tamarisk trees again.

    Maybe…

    Here are some other ideas:

    This one is improbable because of the dew. When there is dew you don’t have winds, and when you have winds, you don’t have dew. And as for the ‘jelly-like’ algae, how would that be ground into flour?
    This one remains a mystery! What was actually found is not known that I could find out.

    Under the circumstances, this is not an unreasonable explanation!
    And this one says it was not from the plant but from an insect feeding on the plant. The one thing it has going for it is that it is not limited to seasonally:


    and, finally, Velikovsky’s rather wild explanation. The main reason I am including it is because of the parallels he finds in other cultures which may or may not provide a clue. Velikovsky was terrific at gathering information, but not always so great with his conclusions! Nevertheless, here:
    The traditional explanation, it should be noted, of “a land of milk and honey” is that the land is so agriculturally rich and fertile that the cows have more than enough milk and the bees more than enough honey from the abundant flowers.

    So what was manna? Quite honestly, we don’t know. Many think they know, but there are problems with every offered explanation. But whatever it was, God provided it for a full forty years, every week of every year with every Sabbath off. So even if there is a natural explanation for the manna itself, there are miracles involved in the Sabbath rest and the cutoff after forty years.

    I know not everyone is interested when we go this deep into an areas, but thank you for your patience and tomorrow the text study resumes with chapter 16 of Exodus.

    [ August 22, 2002, 02:18 AM: Message edited by: Helen ]
     
  2. jcrowe

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    Wow! Great research Helen. I am gonna have to visit this section of the forums more often.

    Thanks
     
  3. ElizabethB

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    I really like this, because I am not anywhere near intellectual enough to do all this research, but it is so interesting to read (after Helen does all the work!)
     
  4. tyndale1946

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    Excellent post Helen and I thought I would add this... Manna and for its white colour, as well as its smallness, it looked like hoar frost on the ground. Jarchi says there were two dews, within which it lay as something covered in a box, and he seems to be right; for it is certain from Nu 11:9, that there was a dew which fell first, and then the manna fell upon it; and from hence it is plain also, that there was a dew over the manna, which went up from it when the sun rose: and the design of this seems to be to keep this heavenly bread pure and clean for the Israelites, that it might neither partake of the dust nor sand of the wilderness where it fell, and that nothing might light upon it until the time of gathering it came. The Jews, in memory of this, will sometimes put bread upon the table between two table cloths {n}; and it is highly probable, that to this the allusion is of the "hidden manna" in Re 2:17, by which is meant our Lord Jesus Christ, the antitype of this manna, as will be observed as we pass on, in all the circumstances of it; the manna came with the dew, and was covered with it, and hid in it; Christ is the gift of God's free grace to the sons of men, and is exhibited in the word of grace, where he lies hid to men in the glory of his person and the fulness of his grace, until revealed and made known. The figure of the manna being "round", which is a perfect figure, may denote the perfection of Christ in his person, natures, and office; he being perfectly God and perfectly man, having all the essential perfections both of the divine and human natures in him, as well as all fulness of grace; and being made perfect through sufferings, is become a complete Saviour, and by his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, has perfected for ever his sanctified ones: and the manna being "small", may signify the meanness of Christ in the eyes of men in his state of humiliation, and the unpromising appearance he made of being the Saviour and King of Israel; the white colour of it may direct to the purity of Christ, to the holiness of his natures, and the beauty of his person, being white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousands... Dr. John Gill on the spiritual application of manna... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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