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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

There is a connection between the natural Manna and the supernatural. The natural is the sweet juice of the Tarfa , a kind of tamarisk. It exudes in May for about six weeks from the trunk and branches in hot weather, and forms small round white grains. It retains its consistency in cool weather, but melts with heat. It is gathered from the twigs or from the fallen leaves. The Arabs, after boiling and straining, use it as honey with bread. The color is a greyish-yellow, the taste sweet and aromatic. Ehrenberg says it is produced by an insect's puncture. It abounds in rainy seasons, some years it ceases. About 600 or 700 pounds is the present produce of a year. The region wady Gharandel (Elim) and Sinai, the wady Sheich, and some other parts of the peninsula, are the places where it is found. The name is still its Arabic designation, and is read on the Egyptian monuments ( Mennu , Mennu Hut , "white manna".) Gesenius derives it from Manah , "to apportion." The supernatural character of the manna of Exodus at the same time appears.

(1) It was found not under the tamarisk, but on the surface of the wilderness, after the morning dew had disappeared.

(2) The quantity gathered in a single day exceeded the present produce of a year.

(3) It ceased on the sabbath.

(4) Its properties were distinct; it could be ground and baked as meal, it was not a mere condiment but nutritious as bread.

(5) It was found not merely where it still is, but Israel's whole way to Canaan (and not merely for a month or two each year, but all the year round). The miracle has all the conditions and characteristics of divine interpositions.

(1) A necessity, for Israel could not otherwise have been sustained in the wilderness.

(2) A divine purpose, namely to preserve God's peculiar people on which His whole providential government and man's salvation depended.

(3) Harmony between the natural and the supernatural; God fed them, not with the food of other regions, but with that of the district.

The local coloring is marked. Moses the writer could neither have been deceived as to the fact, nor could have deceived contemporaries and eye-witnesses. (Speaker's Commentary) The Scripture allusions to it are in  Exodus 16:14-36;  Numbers 11:7-9;  Deuteronomy 8:3-16;  Joshua 5:12;  Psalms 78:24-25 ("angels' food"; not as if angels ate food, but food from the habitation of angels, heaven, a directly miraculous gift),  Matthew 4:4;  John 6:31-50;  1 Corinthians 10:3. The manna was a "small round thing as the hoar-frost on the ground," falling with the dew on the camp at night. They gathered it early every morning before the sun melted it.

If laid by for any following day except the sabbath it bred worms and stank. It was like coriander seed and bdellium, white, and its taste as the taste of fresh oil, like wafers made with honey ( Numbers 11:7-9). Israel subsisted on it for 40 years; it suddenly ceased when they got the first new grain of Canaan. Vulgate, Septuagint, and Josephus (Ant. 3:1, sec. 6) derive manna from Israel's question to one another, Maan Huw' " 'what is this?' for they knew not what it was." God "gave it to His beloved (in) sleep" ( Psalms 127:2), so the sense and context require. Israel each morning, in awaking, found it already provided without toil. Such is the gospel, the gift of grace, not the fruit of works; free to all, and needed by high and low as indispensable for true life.

To commemorate Israel's living on omers or tenth deals of manna one omer was put into a golden pot and preserved for many generations beside the ark. Each was to gather according to his eating, an omer apiece for each in his tent, a command testing their obedience, in which some failed, gathering more but gaining nought by it, for however much he gathered, on measuring it in his tent he found he had only as much as he needed for his family; type of Christian charity, which is to make the superfluity of some supply the needs of others. "that there may be equality" ( 2 Corinthians 8:14-15); "our luxuries should yield to our neighbor's comforts, and our comforts to his necessities" (John Howard). The manna typifies Christ.

(1) It falls from above ( John 6:32, etc.) as the dew ( Psalms 110:3;  Micah 5:7) round the camp, i.e. the visible church, and nowhere else; the gift of God for which we toil not ( John 6:28-29); when we were without merit or strength ( Romans 5:6;  Romans 5:8).

(2) It was gathered early; so we, before the world's heat of excitement melt away the good of God's gift to us ( Psalms 63:1;  Hosea 5:15;  Hosea 6:4;  Matthew 13:6).

(3) A double portion must be gathered for the sabbath.

(4) It was ground in the mill, as Christ was "bruised" for us to become our "bread of life."

(5) Sweet as honey to the taste ( Psalms 34:8;  Psalms 119:103;  1 Peter 2:3).

(6) It must be gathered "day by day," fresh each day; so today's grace will not suffice for tomorrow ( 1 Kings 8:59 margin;  Matthew 6:11;  Luke 11:3). Hoarded up it putrefied; so gospel doctrine laid up for speculation, not received in love and digested as spiritual food, becomes a savor of death not life ( 1 Corinthians 8:1).

(7) To the carnal it was "dry" food though really like "fresh oil" ( Numbers 11:6;  Numbers 11:8;  Numbers 21:5): so the gospel to the worldly who long for fleshly pleasures of Egypt, but to the spiritual it is full of the rich savor of the Holy Spirit ( 2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

(8) Its preservation in the golden pot in the holiest typifies Jesus, now in the heavenly holiest place, where He gives of the hidden manna to him that overcometh ( Revelation 2:17); He is the manna hidden from the world but revealed to the believer, who has now a foretaste of His preciousness; like the incorruptible manna in the sanctuary, the spiritual food offered to all who reject the world's dainties for Christ is everlasting, an incorruptible body, and life in Christ at the resurrection.

(9) The manna continued with Israel throughout their wilderness journey; so Christ with His people here ( Matthew 28:19).

(10) It ceases when they gain the promised rest, for faith then gives place to sight and the wilderness manna to the fruit of the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God ( Revelation 2:7;  Revelation 22:2;  Revelation 22:14).

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

מן ,  Exodus 16:15;  Exodus 16:33;  Exodus 16:35;  Numbers 11:6-7;  Numbers 11:9;  Joshua 5:12;  Nehemiah 9:20;  Psalms 78:24; μαννα ,  John 6:31;  John 6:49;  John 6:58;  Hebrews 9:4;  Revelation 2:17; the food which God gave the children of Israel during their continuance in the deserts of Arabia, from the eighth encampment in the wilderness of Sin. Moses describes it as white like hoar frost, round, and of the bigness of coriander seed. It fell every morning upon the dew; and when the dew was exhaled by the heat of the sun, the manna appeared alone, lying upon the rocks or the sand. It fell every day except on the Sabbath, and this only around the camp of the Israelites. Every sixth day there fell a double quantity; and though it putrefied and bred maggots when it was kept any other day, yet on the Sabbath there was no such alteration. The same substance which was melted by the heat of the sun when it was left abroad, was of so hard a consistence when brought into the tent, that it was beaten in mortars, and would even endure the fire, being made into cakes and baked in pans. It fell in so great quantities during the whole forty years of their journey, that it was sufficient to feed the whole multitude of above a million of souls.

Every man, that is, every male or head of a family, was to gather each day the quantity of an omer, about three quarts English measure; and it is observed that "he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack," because his gathering was in proportion to the number of persons for whom he had to provide. Or every man gathered as much as he could; and then, when brought home and measured by an omer, if he had a surplus, it went to supply the wants of some other family that had not been able to collect a sufficiency, the family being large, and the time in which the manna might be gathered, before the heat of the day, not being sufficient to collect enough for so numerous a household, several of whom might be so confined as not to be able to collect for themselves. Thus there was an equality; and in this light the words of St. Paul lead us to view the passage,  2 Corinthians 8:15 . To commemorate their living upon manna, the Israelites were directed to put one omer of it into a golden vase; and it was preserved for many generations by the side of the ark.

Our translators and others make a plain contradiction in the relation of this account of the manna, by rendering it thus: "And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna; for they knew not what it was;" whereas the Septuagint, and several authors, both ancient and modern, have translated the text according to the original: "The Israelites seeing this, said one to another, What is it? מן חוא ; they could not give it a name. Moses immediately answers the question, and says, "This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat." From  Exodus 16:31 , we learn that this substance was afterward called מן , probably in commemoration of the question they had asked on its first appearance. What this substance was, we know not. It was nothing that was common in the wilderness. It is evident that the Israelites never saw it before; for Moses says, "He fed thee with manna which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know,"  Deuteronomy 8:3;  Deuteronomy 8:16; and it is very likely that nothing of the kind had ever been seen before; and by a pot of it being laid up in the ark, it is as likely that nothing of the kind ever appeared after the miraculous supply in the wilderness had ceased. The author of the book of Wisdom, Wis_16:20-21 , says, that the manna so accommodated itself to every one's taste that it proved palatable and pleasing to all. It has been remarked that at this day, what is called manna is found in several places; in Arabia, on Mount Libanus, Calabria, and elsewhere. The most famous is that of Arabia, which is a kind of condensed honey, which exudes from the leaves of trees, from whence it is collected when it has become concreted. Salmasius thinks this of the same kind which fed the children of Israel; and that the miracle lay, not in creating any new substance, but in making it fall duly at a set time every day throughout the whole year, and that in such plenty as to suffice so great a multitude. But in order for this, the Israelites must be supposed every day to have been in the neighbourhood of the trees on which this substance is formed; which was not the case, neither do these trees grow in those deserts. Beside, this kind of manna is purgative, and the stomach could not endure it in such quantity as is implied by its being eaten for food. The whole history of the giving the manna is evidently miraculous; and the manna was truly "bread from heaven," as sent by special interposition of God.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

MANNA. The food of the Israelites during the wanderings (  Exodus 16:1 ,   Joshua 5:12 ), but not the only food available. Documents of various dates speak of ( a ) cattle (  Exodus 17:3;   Exodus 19:13;   Exodus 34:3 ,   Numbers 7:3;   Numbers 7:6 f.), especially in connexion with sacrifice (  Exodus 24:5;   Exodus 32:8 ,   Leviticus 8:2;   Leviticus 8:25;   Leviticus 8:31;   Leviticus 9:4;   Leviticus 10:14 ,   Numbers 7:15 ff.); ( b ) flour (  Numbers 7:13;   Numbers 7:19;   Numbers 7:25 etc.,   Leviticus 10:12;   Leviticus 24:5 ); ( c ) food in general (  Deuteronomy 2:3 ,   Joshua 1:11 ).

1. The origin of the word is uncertain. In   Exodus 16:13 the exclamation might be rendered, ‘It is mân  !’ (note RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ). If so, the Israelites were reminded (but only vaguely, see   Exodus 16:15 ) of some known substance. The similar Arabic word means ‘gift.’ More probably the words are a question ‘What is it?’ Unaware of the proper term, they thus spoke of manna as ‘the-what-is-it.’

2. The manna was flaky, small, and white ( Exodus 16:14;   Exodus 16:31 ). It resembled the ‘seed’ (better ‘fruit’) of the coriander plant (  Exodus 16:31 ,   Numbers 11:7 ), and suggested bdellium (  Numbers 11:7 [see § 3]). It could be ground, and was stewed or baked (  Exodus 16:23 ,   Numbers 11:8 ). The taste is compared to that of honey-wafers (  Exodus 16:31 ), or oil (  Numbers 11:8 ), it was gathered fresh every morning early (but see § 4), for, if exposed to the sun, it melted (  Exodus 16:21; cf. Wis 19:2 ); if kept overnight (see § 4), it went had (  Exodus 16:19 f.). Each person was entitled to a measured ’omer of manna (  Exodus 16:19 ).

3. Many would identify manna with the juice of certain trees. The flowering ash (S. Europe) exudes a ‘manna’ (used in medicine); and a species of tamarisk found in the Sinai peninsula yields a substance containing sugar. The description of manna would not in every point support such an identification, but it is worth noting that manna is likened (see § 2) to bdellium, which is a resinous exudation. A more recent theory is that manna was an edible lichen like that found in Arabia, etc.

4. Manna would thus come under the category of ‘special providences,’ not ‘miracles.’ There can, however, be no doubt that the Biblical writers regarded it as miraculous. ( a ) There is enough for a host of ‘600,000 footmen.’ ( b ) The quantity gathered proves exactly suited to the consumer’s appetite (  Exodus 16:18 ). ( c ) The Sabbath supply (gathered the previous day) retains its freshness (  Exodus 16:23 f.). ( d ) An ‘omer of it is kept as a sacred object near (  Exodus 16:33 f.) but not within (  1 Kings 8:9; ct. [Note: t. contrast.]   Hebrews 9:4 ,   Revelation 2:17 ) the ark. ( e ) Allusions to it suggest the supernatural (  Nehemiah 9:20 ,   Psalms 78:24 f., Psa 105:40 ,   Esther 1:19  Esther 1:19 , Wis 16:20; Wis 19:21 ).

5. All this must lend significance to NT mention. Christ as the living bread is typified by manna (  John 6:31 ff.,   1 Corinthians 10:3;   1 Corinthians 4:1-21 ); and secret spiritual sustenance is the reward for ‘him that overcometh’ (  Revelation 2:17 ).

H. F. B. Compston.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [4]

The miraculous "bread of heaven" ( Psalm 78:24 ) that God provided for the Israelites while he led them through the Red Sea on dry ground and into the Wilderness of Sin ( Exodus 16 ). The "small round substance" (v. 14) may have been produced by insects that punctured the fruit of the tamarisk tree, through it was consistently regarded in the Bible as a miraculous gift from God rather than as a product of nature. It was certainly miraculous in terms of its timing and quanity. .

Manna looked like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey (v. 31). When the Israelites saw it, they asked each other, "What is it?" (Heb. man hu [יואָבמָן מָן]). This led to the name "manna, " "what?" It came each morning, except on the Sabbath day. It could be collected each day for that day alone, and only as much as could be eaten in one day. If a person tried to collect more than needed or to store the manna for future needs, it would grow wormy and foul (v. 20). In this way it was impossible for the Israelites to evade total dependence on God or to use the manna greedily for personal gain. Miraculously, the manna could be preserved on the sixth day and eaten on the Sabbath, and it was not to be found on the Sabbath morning (vv. 22-29).

Eventually, the rebellious Israelites grew tired of the manna and regretted the day they were delivered from their bondage ( Numbers 11:6 ). They came to detest the manna and longed instead for the rich foods of Egypt (v. 5). But God continued to give the Israelites a steady supply of manna during their forty years of desert wanderings. When Joshua and the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River and entered the promised land at Gilgal, they celebrated the Passover and ate the produce of the land. On that day, the manna ceased, again illustrating its miraculous provision ( Joshua 5:12 ).

The purpose of the manna was to test Israel's faith, to humble them, and to teach them that one "does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord" ( Deuteronomy 8:3,16 ). A hungry Jesus used this quote to refuse Satan's suggestion that he turn stones into bread ( Matthew 4:4 ). Like the Israelites in the desert, Jesus was totally dependent on the provisions of his heavenly Father while in the wilderness of temptation ( Matthew 4:11 ).

The people in Jesus' day misunderstood the significance of the manna. They longed for a physical miracle, like the manna, which would prove to them that Jesus' words were true ( John 6:31 ). But Jesus wanted his disciples to seek for the bread of heaven that gives life to the world, instead of physical bread to satisfy their appetites. When they asked, "From now on give us this bread, " he answered, "I am the bread of life" (vv. 32-35). To the church in Pergamos, Jesus encouraged faithfulness by promising that true believers would receive "hidden manna" to eat ( Revelation 2:17 ). Just as Moses' manna brought with it physical blessing, so this heavenly reward will bring eternal life.

William T. Arnold

See also Jesus Christ; Theology Of John

Bibliography . F. S. Bodenheimer, BA 10 (1947):1-6; J. C. Slayton, ABD, 4:511; E. M. Yamauchi, WTJ 28 (1966):145-56.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [5]

In the margin of the Bible it is called Man-hu, ( Exodus 16:15) meaning the bread with which the Lord fed. Israel in the wilderness. It was altogether miraculous: for this food began to fall from heaven from the time the Israelites arrived in the wilderness of Zin, which was the sixteenth day of the second month after their departure from Egypt, until that they came to Canaan, during the pilgrimage of forty years. And what rendered this daily mercy the more miraculous was, that on the Sabbath-days it never fell, during the whole of this eventful period. I beg the reader to read the interesting account of it,  Exodus 16:1-36 throughout: it will well reward his attention, The children of Israel called it Man-hu; that is, they asked the question, "What is this, far it is peculiar?" And hence Moses, ( Deuteronomy 8:3) reminds Israel of their surprize at first beholding it. "Who fed thee (said Moses) with that peculiar things which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know."

The miracle itself was designed to be a standing miracle, for Israel to remember and record in their generations for ever; hence an omer of it was to be reserved in a pot, and laid up before the Lord for a memorial. Here was a double proof of the miracle; for the manna itself was s perishable and delicate, that if only kept for day, it bred worms and stank; yet, to teach Israel to reverence the Sabbaths, that which we kept for the use of the Sabbath bred no worm nor stank; and the omer of it also which was laid up before the Lord, was preserved pure generation to generation.

It was also no less miraculous, the immense quantity which regularly fell every day in the supply. It gave supply to the whole camp Israel—six hundred thousand on foot that we men, besides children, and mixed multitude that went with Israel, came out of Egypt; therefore allowing for increase, we may safely put down near a million of souls, who were daily fed from the supply of manna. (See  Exodus 12:37-38) The manna had a remarkable quality, which, though not miraculous, is recorded as worthy our observation. Though it melted at the heat of the sun, yet when brought into the tent it became hard, so that the people ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar. (See  Numbers 11:7-8 and  Exodus 16:20-21) It may be proper to observe, that what is now called manna in the shop of the apothecary, hath no One resemblance or connection whatever with the manna of Scripture, but is the gum, or balsam, of certain trees. We are told indeed by historians, that in Arabia and in Calabria, and in other places, there is a dew on the ground still to be seen like manna. But that this cannot be similar to the manna of Israel is evident, for it is of medicinal quality, and affects the bowels. The Jews are so tenacious respecting the manna of their fathers, that they pronounce an anathema and execration on every one that would call in question the miraculous nature of it. And Christians ought not to be less earnest in defence of the same precious truth, since the manna of the Old Testament was but typical and figurative of the bread of life under the New. Jesus was all along thus represented to Israel; and was then, and is now, the living bread, by faith, with which the Lord feeds all the true Israel. (See  John 6:31-58;  Revelation 2:17)

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [6]

The miraculous food given by God to the Israelites during their wanderings in the desert. It was a small grain, white like hoarfrost, round, and of the size of coriander-seed,  Exodus 16:1-36   Numbers 11:1-35 . It fell every morning, with the dew, about the camp of the Israelites, and in so great quantities during the whole forty years of their journey in the wilderness, that it was sufficient to serve the entire multitude instead of bread,  Exodus 16:35   Deuteronomy 29:5,6   Joshua 5:12 . It is nowhere said that the Israelites had no other food, that numerous flocks and herds accompanied the camp of Israel is clear from many passages. Certainly the daily sacrifices were offered, and no doubt to her offerings affording animal food on which the priests and Levites subsisted, according to their offices.

When manna was first sent the Israelites "knew not what it was," and "said one to another", MAN-HU, which means, What is it? Most interpreters think that form the frequent repetition of this inquiry the name MAN or manna arose. Burckhardt says, that in the valleys around Sinai a species of manna is still found, dropping from the sprigs of several trees, but principally from the tamarisk, in the month of June. It is collected by the Arabs, who make cakes of it, and call it honey of betrouk. See  Exodus 16:31 . Since his time it has been ascertained by Dr. Ehrenburg that the exudation of this manna is occasioned by an insect, which he has particularly described. Besides this substance and the manna of commerce, which is used as a laxative medicine, and is produced by the ash-trees of southern Europe, several other vegetable products in Arabia, Persia, etc., of similar origin and qualities, are known by the same name. It is in vain, however, to seek to identify with any of these the manna of the Israelites, which was evidently a special provision for them, beginning and terminating with their need of it. It was found, not on trees and shrubs, but on "the face of the wilderness" wherever they went; and was different in its qualities from any now known by that name, being dry enough to grind and bake like grain, but breeding worms on the second day. It was miraculous in the amount that fell, for the supply of millions; in not falling on the Sabbath; in falling in double quantities the previous day; and in remaining fresh during the Sabbath. By these last three peculiarities God miraculously attested the sanctity of the Sabbath, as dating from the creation and not from Mount Sinai. Moreover, a specimen of manna as laid up in a golden vase in the ark of the covenant in memory of a substance which would otherwise have perished,  Hebrews 9:4 .

In  Psalm 78:24-25 , manna is called "angels' food" and "corn of heaven," in token of its excellence, and that it came directly from the hand of God. The people gathered on an average about three quarts for each man. They who gathered more than they needed, shared it freely with others; it could not be hoarded up: and thus, as Paul teaches us,  2 Corinthians 8:13-15 , it furnishes for all men a lesson against hoarding the earthly and perishable gifts of God, and in favor of freely imparting to our brethren in need.

This great boon of God to the Israelites also offers many striking analogies, illustrative of "the true Bead" which came down form heaven to rebellious and perishing man,  John 6:31-58   Revelation 2:17 . Like the manna, Christ descends from above around the camp of his church in daily abundant supplies, to meet the wants of every man.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [7]

Manna was a kind of food that God first gave to the Israelites soon after they left Egypt. It remained their daily food for the next forty years ( Exodus 16:4;  Numbers 11:6;  Psalms 78:23-24). It was not, however, their only food ( Exodus 18:12;  Leviticus 7:14-15;  Leviticus 11:2-3;  Leviticus 11:9;  Numbers 11:31-34). God’s provision of the manna ceased once the people arrived in Canaan ( Joshua 5:12).

The people of Israel gave the food the name ‘manna’ (meaning ‘What is it?’) because they did not know what else to call it ( Exodus 16:15;  Exodus 16:31). We today do not know exactly what the manna was or how it was made. Possibly it was a substance prepared by insects that sucked the gum from trees. It formed during the night and was ready to be collected in the morning. It was fine, flaky, tasted like wafers mixed with honey, and could be cooked in various ways ( Exodus 16:14;  Exodus 16:23;  Exodus 16:31;  Numbers 11:7-9).

God supplied the manna every morning, and the people had to eat it the same day. The only exceptions concerned the Sabbath rest day. There was no manna on Saturday mornings, but God gave two days’ supply each Friday, half of which the people kept for use on Saturday. Because the manna spoiled quickly, the people preserved the supply for Saturday by baking or boiling it beforehand. Moses controlled the collection and distribution of the manna so that no one had too much or too little ( Exodus 16:4-5;  Exodus 16:15-18;  Exodus 16:23).

The command that prohibited keeping the manna overnight tested the people’s obedience. The promise that ensured complete Sabbath rest through the double supply each Friday tested their faith. But in both matters they failed ( Exodus 16:19-30).

In accordance with God’s instructions, Moses put part of the manna in a jar, to keep as a memorial of how God fed his people in the wilderness. This jar was later placed in the ark of the covenant together with Aaron’s rod and the stone tablets inscribed with the law ( Exodus 16:31-35;  Hebrews 9:4).

God also used the manna to teach the Israelites that their lives depended not merely on the food they ate, but on their spiritual relationship with God ( Deuteronomy 8:3; cf.  Matthew 4:4). Jesus compared the gift of manna to satisfy physical hunger with the gift of himself to satisfy spiritual hunger. He did not need to make food fall from heaven, for he himself was the true bread from heaven ( John 6:31-35). He gave himself as a sacrifice for sin, so that those who trust in him may have eternal life ( John 6:48-51; cf.  Revelation 2:17).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [8]

The food miraculously supplied from heaven to the Israelites during the forty years of their wanderings. Its name signifies 'what is it?' for they knew not what it was. It fell every morning except on the Sabbath, and had to be gathered early, or it melted. If kept till the second dayit bred worms, except the double quantity gathered on the day before the Sabbath, which was good on the second day. The quantity to be gathered was on an average an omer (about 4 pints) for every man. Some gathered more and some less, and when they measured it with an omer "he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating."

The explanation given by the Rabbis is that though several in a family went out to gather the manna, when it was brought home and measured it was found to be just an omer for each of them. The more probable explanation is that though on an average an omer was the portion for each, some needed more and others less, and therefore every one gathered 'according to his eating,' according to what he knew he would require, and thus every one had enough and there was nothing wasted. The former part of the passage is quoted in  2 Corinthians 8:15 , to show that in making a collection for the poor saints there should be the carrying out of this divine principle of 'equality,' the abundance of some contributing to the need of others.

The manna ceased as soon as the Israelites had crossed the Jordan, and eaten of the old corn of the promised land. The manna is described as being likecoriander seed, of the colour of bdellium. It was ground in mills, or pounded in a mortar, and baked in pans, or made into cakes. It tasted like wafers made with honey,  Exodus 16:31; but afterwards, when the people had lost their relish for it, like fresh oil.  Numbers 11:6-9 . The people, alas, murmured because they had nothing to eat but the manna.

The manna is typical of Christ Himself, the vessel of God's good pleasure, and of heavenly grace here on earth — the heavenly One in the midst of earthly circumstances. He is this heavenly grace now for His own, so that grace is ministered to them for the wilderness journey. When they are viewed as in the land, that is, as made to sit in heavenly places in Christ, and entering in spirit upon their heavenly and eternal portion, then Christ in glory, the centre of all the Father's counsels, is their food, as the 'old corn' of the promised land. The Christian, whose heart is not set for God's purpose, gets tired of the manna, and longs, alas, for other food, as the Israelites did.  Exodus 16:15-35;  Deuteronomy 8:3,16;  Joshua 5:12;  Nehemiah 9:20;  Psalm 78:24;  Hebrews 9:4 . In  Revelation 2:17 the Lord promises to give to the overcomer in the church in Pergamos to eat of the Hidden Manna that is, some sweet secret communion with Himself, known in the glory as the One who suffered here.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [9]

Manna. (What Is This?). (Hebrew, man ). The most important passages of the Old Testament on this topic are the following:  Exodus 16:14-36;  Numbers 11:7-9;  Deuteronomy 11:5;  Deuteronomy 11:16;  Joshua 5:12;  Psalms 78:24-25.

From these passages, we learn that the manna came every morning, except the Sabbath , in the form of a small round seed, resembling the hoar frost, so that it must be gathered early, before the sun became so hot as to melt it; that it must be gathered every day except the Sabbath ; that the attempt to lay aside for a succeeding day, except on the day immediately preceding the Sabbath , failed because the substance becoming wormy and offensive; that it was prepared for food by grinding and baking; that its taste was like fresh oil, and like wafers made with honey, equally agreeable to all palates; that the whole nation, of at least 2,000,000, subsisted upon it for forty years; that it suddenly ceased when they first got the new corn of the land of Canaan; and that it was always regarded as a miraculous gift directly from God, and not as a product of nature.

The natural products of the Arabian deserts and other Oriental regions which bear the name of manna have not the qualities or uses ascribed to the manna of Scripture. The latter substance was undoubtedly wholly miraculous, and not, in any respect, a product of nature, though its name may have come from its resemblance to the natural manna. The substance now called Manna in the Arabian desert, through which the Israelites passed, is collected in the month of June from the Tarfa or Tamarisk Shrub ( Tamarix gallica ).

According to Burckhardt, it drops from the thorns on the sticks and leaves with which the ground is covered, and must be gathered early in the day or it will be melted by the sun. The Arabs cleanse and boil it, strain it through a cloth and put it in leathern bottles; and in this way, it can be kept uninjured for several years. They use it like honey or butter with their unleavened bread, but never make it into cakes or eat it by itself. The whole harvest, which amounts to only five or six hundred pounds, is consumed by the Bedouins, "who," says Schaff, "consider it the greatest dainty their country affords."

The manna of European commerce conies mostly from Calabria and Sicily. It's gathered during the months of June and July from some species of ash, ( Ornus europaea and Ornus rotundifolia ), from which it drops in consequence of a puncture by an insect resembling the locust, but distinguished from it by having a sting under its body. The substance is fluid at night and resembles the dew, but in the morning it begins to harden.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [10]

Manna, ( What Is This? Heb. Mân ). The chief food of the Israelites in the wilderness.  Exodus 16:14-36;  Numbers 11:7-9;  Deuteronomy 8:3;  Deuteronomy 8:16;  Joshua 5:12;  Psalms 78:24-25. The most remarkable things about the manna of the Israelites were: 1. That double the quantity was supplied on the day preceding the Sabbath or seventh day; 2. That on the Sabbath or seventh day none was furnished; 3. That what they kept from the sixth day to the seventh was sweet and good, while what they kept from any other day to the next day bred worms and became offensive. These miracles were wrought in attestation of the sanctity of the Sabbath. The manna of the Jews is described as "a small round thing," as small as "the hoarfrost on the ground," "like coriander seed" (in shape doubtless, perhaps in size and density), "of the color of bdellium." "and the taste of it like wafers made with honey." For forty years this miraculous supply of food was furnished daily to between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 of people.  Deuteronomy 29:5-6. It ceased while they were encamped at Gilgal, immediately after they had celebrated the passover for the first time in the Land of Promise. To commemorate this wonderful miracle a golden pot was provided,  Exodus 16:33;  Hebrews 9:4, and an omer (or one man's portion) of the manna put up for preservation and placed in or near the ark, that succeeding generations might see with their own eyes the very substance on which their fathers were miraculously fed in their long and perilous journeyings from Egypt to Canaan. The manna which is now used in medicine as a mild laxative is the juice of the flowering ash, a native of Sicily, Calabria, and other parts of the south of Europe. It is either naturally concreted, or exsiccated, and purified by art. The best manna is in oblong pieces or flakes of a pale yellow color; light, friable, and somewhat transparent. It has no characteristics in common with the manna miraculously supplied to the Israelites while journeying through the wilderness. Wherever the manna is referred to in Scripture, it is invariably regarded as a miraculous food sent directly from God. The Lord Jesus accepted the manna as a type of himself—the living bread which came down from heaven. "For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world."  John 6:33;  John 6:48;  John 6:50. The phrase "hidden manna,"  Revelation 2:17, figuratively describes the spiritual food which Christ supplies to those who believe in him and live by faith in him.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [11]

1: Μάννα (Strong'S #3131 — Noun Neuter — manna — man'-nah )

the supernaturally provided food for Israel during their wilderness journey (for details see  Exodus 16 and   Numbers 11 ). The Hebrew equivalent is given in  Exodus 16:15 , RV marg., "man hu." The translations are, RV, "what is it?;" AV and RV marg., "it is manna." It is described in  Psalm 78:24,25 as "the corn of heaven" and "the bread of the mighty," RV text and AV marg. ("angels' food," AV text), and in   1—Corinthians 10:3 , as "spiritual meat." The vessel appointed to contain it as a perpetual memorial, was of gold,  Hebrews 9:4 , with  Exodus 16:33 . The Lord speaks of it as being typical of Himself, the true Bread from Heaven, imparting eternal life and sustenance to those who by faith partake spiritually of Him,  John 6:31-35 . The "hidden manna" is promised as one of the rewards of the overcomer,  Revelation 2:17; it is thus suggestive of the moral excellence of Christ in His life on earth, hid from the eyes of men, by whom He was "despised and rejected;" the path of the overcomer is a reflex of His life.

King James Dictionary [12]

MAN'NA, n.

1. A substance miraculously furnished as food for the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness of Arabia.  Exodus 16

Josephus, Ant.B 3:1. considers the Hebrew word man, to signify what. In conformity with this idea, the seventy translate the passage,  Exodus 16:15 . what is this? which rendering seems to accord with the following words, for they knew not what it was. And in the Encyclopedia, the translators are charged with making Moses fall into a plain contradiction. Art. Manna. But Christ and his apostles confirm the common version: "Not as your fathers ate manna, and are dead."  John 6.58 .  Hebrews 9:4 . And we have other evidence, that the present version is correct for in the same chapter, Moses directed Aaron to "take a pot and put a homer full of manna therein." Now it would be strange language to say, put an homer full of what, or what is it. So also verse 35. "The children of Israel ate manna forty years, &c." In both verses, the Hebrew word is the same as in verse 15.

2. In the materia medica, the juice of a certain tree of the ash-kind, the Fraxinus ornus, or flowering ash a native of Sicily, Calabria,and other parts of the south of Europe. It is either naturally concreted, or exsiccated and purified by art. The best manna is in oblong pieces or flakes of a whitish or pale yellow color, light, friable, and somewhat transparent. It is a mild laxative.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [13]

MANNA. —The miracle of the loaves and fishes, by which Jesus fed five thousand men, stirred the multitudes to fanaticism ( John 6:1-15). Their first impulse was to make Jesus king by force. On the morrow they followed Him across the sea to Capernaum, hoping that He would feed them again in some supernatural way, and suggesting the giving of bread from heaven as a suitable sign in confirmation of His high claims. Would not the prophet of Nazareth imitate the great lawgiver, who gave their fathers bread from heaven? Jesus turns their thoughts away from Moses to God: ‘It was not Moses that gave you the bread out of heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread out of heaven.’ As God gave the fathers literal bread from heaven, so now He is giving to their children spiritual food that nourishes the soul eternally. ‘I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.’ ‘Your fathers did eat the manna in the wilderness, and they died.’ God has a far better gift than the manna that was gathered day by day in the wilderness. ‘I am the living bread that cometh down out of heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; yea, and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world’ ( John 6:51).

In  Revelation 2:17 the spiritual blessing promised by the glorified Christ to the victor in life’s battle is called ‘hidden manna.’

John R. Sampey.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [14]

 Exodus 16:15-35 Man Manan   Exodus 16:23 Numbers 11:7 Exodus 16:16-18,33 Deuteronomy 8:3,16 Joshua 5:12

This manna was evidently altogether a miraculous gift, wholly different from any natural product with which we are acquainted, and which bears this name. The manna of European commerce comes chiefly from Calabria and Sicily. It drops from the twigs of a species of ash during the months of June and July. At night it is fluid and resembles dew, but in the morning it begins to harden. The manna of the Sinaitic peninsula is an exudation from the "manna-tamarisk" tree (Tamarix mannifera), the el-tarfah of the Arabs. This tree is found at the present day in certain well-watered valleys in the peninsula of Sinai. The manna with which the people of Israel were fed for forty years differs in many particulars from all these natural products.

Our Lord refers to the manna when he calls himself the "true bread from heaven" ( John 6:31-35;  4851-51 ). He is also the "hidden manna" ( Revelation 2:17; Compare  John 6:49,51 ).

Holman Bible Dictionary [15]

Old Testament. The small round grains or flakes, which appeared around the Israelites' camp each morning with the dew, were ground and baked into cakes or boiled ( Exodus 16:13-36 ). Their name may have come from the question the Israelites asked when they first saw them: “What is it (man hu)?” Today a type of manna has been identified with the secretions left on tamarisk bushes by insects feeding on the sap. The Bible emphasizes that God caused manna to appear at the right time and place to meet His people's needs.

New Testament Jesus assured the Jews that He, and not the wilderness food, was the true Bread from heaven which conferred eternal life on those who partook of it ( John 6:30-58 ).

Barbara J. Bruce

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [16]

 Deuteronomy 8:3 (a) This bread is a type of Christ the living Bread. GOD gave it to Israel in a miraculous way. He is the living bread which sustains the lives of GOD's people. It was always pure white. It was sweet. There was enough for all. (See also  John 6:49;  Hebrews 9:4).

 Revelation 2:17 (a) This bread is a type of some sort of unseen and unknown blessings which are given by GOD for the blessing of His people when they live victorious lives for Him. It is a gift that is lovely, precious, attractive and satisfying, but the character of it is unknown.

Webster's Dictionary [17]

(1): ( n.) A sweetish exudation in the form of pale yellow friable flakes, coming from several trees and shrubs and used in medicine as a gentle laxative, as the secretion of Fraxinus Ornus, and F. rotundifolia, the manna ashes of Southern Europe.

(2): ( n.) A name given to lichens of the genus Lecanora, sometimes blown into heaps in the deserts of Arabia and Africa, and gathered and used as food.

(3): ( n.) The food supplied to the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness of Arabia; hence, divinely supplied food.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [18]

Manna, or Man. The name given to the miraculous food upon which the Israelites were fed for forty years, during their wanderings in the desert. The same name has in later ages been applied to some natural productions, chiefly found in warm dry countries, but which have little or no resemblance to the original manna. This is first mentioned in Exodus 16. It is there described as being first produced after the eighth encampment in the desert of Sin, as white like hoar frost (or of the color of bdellium, ), round, and of the bigness of coriander seed (gad). It fell with the dew every morning, and when the dew was exhaled by the heat of the sun, the manna appeared alone, lying upon the ground or the rocks round the encampment of the Israelites. 'When the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, What is it? for they knew not what it was' . In the Authorized, and some other versions, this passage is inaccurately translated—which indeed is apparent from the two parts of the sentence contradicting each other. Josephus (Antiq. iii. 1. § 6), as quoted by Dr. Harris, says: 'The Hebrews call this food manna, for the particle man in our language is the asking of a question, What is this? (mah-hu). Moses answered this question by telling them, 'This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.' We are further informed that the manna fell every day, except on the Sabbath. Every sixth day, that is on Friday, there fell a double quantity of it. Every man was directed to gather an omer (about three English quarts) for each member of his family: and the whole seems afterwards to have been measured out at the rate of an omer to each person: 'He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack.' That which remained ungathered dissolved in the heat of the sun, and was lost. The quantity collected was intended for the food of the current day only; for if any were kept till next morning, it corrupted and bred worms. Yet it was directed that a double quantity should be gathered on the sixth day for consumption on the Sabbath. And it was found that the manna kept for the Sabbath remained sweet and wholesome, notwithstanding that it corrupted at other times, if kept for more than one day. In the same manner as they would have treated grain, they reduced it to meal, kneaded it into dough, and baked it into cakes, and the taste of it was like that of wafers made with honey, or of fresh oil. In , where the description of the manna is repeated, an omer of it is directed to be preserved as a memorial to future generations, 'that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness;' and in we learn that after the Israelites had encamped at Gilgal, and did eat of the old corn of the land, the manna ceased on the morrow after, neither had the children of Israel manna anymore.'

Fig. 251—Manna Plants—1. Alhagi maurorum. 2. Tamarix gallica.

This miracle is referred to in;;;;;; . Though the manna of Scripture was so evidently miraculous, both in the mode and in the quantities in which it was produced, and though its properties were so different from anything with which we are acquainted, yet, because its taste is in Exodus said to be like that of wafers made with honey, many writers have thought that they recognized the manna of Scripture in a sweetish exudation which is found on several plants in Arabia and Persia. The name man, or manna, is applied to this substance by the Arab writers, and was probably so applied even before their time. But the term is now almost entirely appropriated to the sweetish exudation of the ash trees of Sicily and Italy. These, however, have no relation to the supposed manna of Scripture. Of this one kind is known to the Arabs by the name of guzunjbeen, being the produce of a plant called guz, and which is ascertained to be a species of tamarisk. The same species seems also to be called toorfa, and is common along different parts of the coast of Arabia. It is also found in the neighborhood of Mount Sinai. In the month of June it drops from the thorns of the tamarisk upon the fallen twigs, leaves and thorns, which always cover the ground beneath the tree in the natural state. The Arabs use it as they do honey, to pour over their unleavened bread, or to dip their bread into; its taste is agreeable, somewhat aromatic, and as sweet as honey. 'If eaten in any quantity it is said to be highly purgative.' When Lieut. Wellsted visited this place in the month of September, he found the extremities of the twigs and branches retaining the peculiar sweetness and flavor which characterize the manna. The Bedouins collect it early in the morning, and, after straining it through a cloth, place it either in skins or gourds; a considerable quantity is consumed by themselves; a portion is sent to Cairo; and some is also disposed of to the monks at Mount Sinai. The latter retail it to the Russian pilgrims.' 'The Bedouins assured me that the whole quantity collected throughout the Peninsula, in the most fruitful season, did not exceed 150 wogas (about 700 pounds); and that it was usually disposed of at the rate of 60 dollars the woga.'

Another kind of manna, which has been supposed to be that of Scripture, is yielded by a thorny plant very common from the north of India to Syria, and which by the Arabs is called Al-haj: whence botanists have constructed the name Alhagi. The Alhagi maurorum is remarkable for the exudation of a sweetish juice, which concretes into small granular masses, and which is usually distinguished by the name of Persian manna. The climates of Persia and Bokhara seem also well suited to the secretion of this manna, which in the latter country is employed as a substitute for sugar, and is imported into India for medicinal use through Caubul and Khorassan. These two, from the localities in which they are produced, have alone been thought to be the manna of Scripture. But, besides these, there are several other kinds of manna. Indeed, a sweetish secretion is found on the leaves of many other plants, produced sometimes by the plant itself, at others by the punctures of insects. It has been supposed, also, that these sweetish exudations being evaporated during the heat of the day in still weather, may afterwards become deposited, with the dew, on the ground, and on the leaves of plants; and thus explain some of the phenomena which have been observed by travelers and others. But none of these mannas explain, nor can it be expected that they should explain, the miracle of Scripture, by which abundance is stated to have been produced for millions, where hundreds cannot now be subsisted.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [19]

man´a ( מן , mān  ; μάννα , mánna ): The Hebrew man is probably derived, as Ebers suggests, from the Egyptian mennu , "food." In   Exodus 16:15 , we have a suggested source of the name, "They said one to another, What is it?" i.e. manhu , which also means, "It is manna" (see margin).

1. Old Testament References:

This substance is described as occurring in flakes or small round grains, literally, "hoax frost"; it fell with the dew ( Numbers 11:9 ) and appeared when the dew left the ground ( Exodus 16:14 ); "It was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey" ( Exodus 16:31 ). In  Numbers 11:8 , its taste is described "as the taste of fresh oil," margin "cakes baked with oil." "And the children of Israel did eat the manna forty years, until they came ... unto the borders of the land of Canaan" ( Exodus 16:35 ). It ceased the day after they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain, in the plains of Jericho ( Joshua 5:10-12 ). Although an important article of diet, it was by no means the sole one as seems implied in  Numbers 21:15; there are plenty of references (e.g.  Exodus 17:3;  Exodus 24:5;  Exodus 34:3;  Leviticus 8:2 ,  Leviticus 8:26 ,  Leviticus 8:31;  Leviticus 9:4;  Leviticus 10:12;  Leviticus 24:5;  Numbers 7:13 ,  Numbers 7:19 f, etc.) which show that they had other food besides. The food was gathered every morning, "every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted" (  Exodus 16:21 ); a portion of the previous day's gathering bred worms and stank if kept ( Exodus 16:20 ); on the 6th day a double amount was gathered, the Sabbath portion being miraculously preserved ( Exodus 16:22-27 ). A pot - a golden one ( Hebrews 9:4 ) - with an omer of manna was "laid up before Yahweh" in the tabernacle ( Exodus 16:33 ). Manna is referred to in  Nehemiah 9:20 . It is described poetically as "food from heaven" and "bread of the mighty" ( Psalm 78:24 f); as "bread of heaven" (  Psalm 105:40 ); and as "angels' bread" (2 Esdras 1:19; The Wisdom of Solomon 16:20).

2. New Testament References:

In  John 6:31-63 , our Lord frequently refers to "the manna" or "bread from heaven" as typical of Himself. Paul ( 1 Corinthians 10:3 ) refers to it as "spiritual food," and in  Revelation 2:17 we read, "To him that overcometh, to him will I give of the hidden manna."

Manna, as might be expected, figures largely in rabbinical literature. It was, it is said, adapted to the taste of each individual who could by wishing taste in the manna anything he desired (compare The Wisdom of  Song of Solomon 16:21 ). Manna is reserved as the future food of the righteous (compare  Revelation 2:17 ), for which purpose it is ground in a mill situated in the third heaven (Chag 12b; Tan. Beshallach 22).

3. Natural Explanations:

No substance is known which in any degree satisfies all the requirements of the Scriptural references, but several travelers in the wilderness have reported phenomena which suggest some of the features of the miraculous manna.

(1) In the Peninsula of Sinai, on the route of the children of Israel, a species of tamarisk, named in consequence by Ebers Tammaris mannifera , is found to exude a sweet, honey-like substance where its bark is pierced by an insect, Gossyparia mannifera . It collects upon the twigs and falls to the ground. The Arabs who gather it to sell to pilgrims call it mann - es - samā , "heavenly manna"; it is white at first but turns yellow; in the early morning it is of the consistency of wax but when the sun is hot it disappears. This substance occurs only after mid-summer and for a month or two at most.

(2) A second proposal is to identify manna with a lichen - Lecanora esculenta and allied species - which grows in the Arabian and other deserts upon the limestone. The older masses become detached and are rolled about by the wind. When swept together by sudden rain storms in the rainy season they may collect in large heaps. This lichen has been used by the Arabs in time of need for making bread. It is a quite reasonable form of nourishment in the desert, especially when eaten with the sugary manna from the trees.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [20]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Manna'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [21]

The food with which the Israelites were miraculously fed in the wilderness, a term which means "What is this?" being the expression of surprise of the Israelites on first seeing it.