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Jewish Texts

The Chumash (Five Books of Moses)

Lessons from the Manna

Question: What is the significance of story of the Manna?

Answer: Many commentaries explain that the story of the Manna teaches us about the mechanics of earning a livelihood. Although we must put forth an effort to obtain an income, our livelihood is ultimately a gift from above – like the Manna. This being the case, a person should recognize that putting forth more effort than required will not yield more money.

To this extent we read in the Torah that those Jews who gathered more Manna than their family needed found their extra Manna spoiled in the morning.

It seems to me that the reason that G-d commanded Moses to place a portion of Manna in a flask that would remain in the ark forever, was that G-d desired that the Manna serve as an eternal sign that it is ultimately G-d who provides.

Yochai Robkin

[Reposted from the Archives]

1 Follow-up »

  1. What was manna made of. What was it?

    Quite frankly no one knows what the manna is. There are a few Biblical citations and some basic facts. Then we are all free to speculate. Allow me therefore to tell you everything we know as well as to delineate the details.

    The Biblical verses give the following facts:
    1) In Ex16 we read that
    1a) APPEARANCE: (Ex16-13:14) And it came to pass, in the morning the dew lay around the camp. And when the dew that lay was gone, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as hoarfrost on the ground [This was the MANNA]. (Nu11-07) And the manna was as coriander seed, and its color as the color of bdellium.

    1b) NAME: (Verse 15) And when the people of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna; for they knew not what it was. And Moses said to them, This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.

    NOTE: The Hebrew word for WHAT IS THIS is MAH or MAHN. In other words the word MANNA literally means WHAT IS THIS—I DON’T RECOGNIZE IT.

    1c) NUTRITIONAL VALUE: This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an OMER for every man, according to the number of your persons, whom each of you has in his tent;

    NOTE: An OMER is the volume of about 3 1/2 dozen eggs (About a gallon give or take a little.) So whatever the MAN was, about a GALLON of it provided all nutritional needs

    1d) TASTE/PREPARATION: (Nu11-08) And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was like the taste of fresh oil.

    1e) PRESERVATION: Ex16-32. And Moses said, This is what the Lord commands, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread with which I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out from the land of Egypt.

    NOTE: The thermos of manna was kept in the Ark

    LEGENDS: The Talmud relates that the manna was so nutritious that people did not have to go to the bathroom after digesting it (It was fully absorbed).

    SUMMARY: What was the Manna (As you asked)? I dont know.Neither does anyone else. The Bible makes a point that the literal translation of MANNA is WHAT-IS-THIS.

    We could speculate today based on our knowledge of science. Most probably the Manna was some type of YEAST which contained all proteins and B-vitamins and enough fats for a daily diet. This seems consistent with the above. But it really doesn’t answer the question. After all we know of no yeast which has full nutritional value. Also different yeasts have different yields of nutrients.

    I hope you are not disappointed that I couldn’t fully answer your question. Part of Biblical research is to uncover what is known and place a border: “Up to this I know more than this I do not know.”

    Finally I conclude with the MORAL IMPLICATIONS OF GOD PROVIDING US MANNA. This is outlined in Dt08-03 “and fed you with manna, which you knew not, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord does man live.”

    So the important thing about the manna is its MORAL IMPLICATION: “God can provide man with food in a variety of ways. Sometimes we think we have to bend moral borders to achieve our livelihood. Not so! We should depend on God like the generation of the wilderness and our food will be provided.”

    Russell Jay Hendel;

    Comment by ATR — July 22, 2007 @ 4:17 pm

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