|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Hebrews man-hu, "What is that?" the name given by the Israelites to the food miraculously supplied to them during their wanderings in the wilderness (Exodus 16:15-35). The name is commonly taken as derived from man, an expression of surprise, "What is it?" but more probably it is derived from manan, meaning "to allot," and hence denoting an "allotment" or a "gift." This "gift" from God is described as "a small round thing," like the "hoar-frost on the ground," and "like coriander seed," "of the colour of bdellium," and in taste "like wafers made with honey." It was capable of being baked and boiled, ground in mills, or beaten in a mortar (Exodus 16:23; Numbers 11:7). If any was kept over till the following morning, it became corrupt with worms; but as on the Sabbath none fell, on the preceding day a double portion was given, and that could be kept over to supply the wants of the Sabbath without becoming corrupt. Directions concerning the gathering of it are fully given (Exodus 16:16-18, 33; Deuteronomy 8:3, 16). It fell for the first time after the eighth encampment in the desert of Sin, and was daily furnished, except on the Sabbath, for all the years of the wanderings, till they encamped at Gilgal, after crossing the Jordan, when it suddenly ceased, and where they "did eat of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more" (Joshua 5:12). They now no longer needed the "bread of the wilderness."
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; 48-51). He is also the "hidden manna" (Revelation 2:17; Comp. John 6:49, 51).
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) The food supplied to the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness of Arabia; hence, divinely supplied food.
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.) 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.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
man'-a (man; manna): 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, 26, 31; Leviticus 9:4; Leviticus 10:12; Leviticus 24:5 Numbers 7:13, 19, 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 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-sama, "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.
E. W. G. Masterman
Manna (19 Occurrences)
John 6:31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness. As it is written,'He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.'" (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
John 6:49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
John 6:58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven-not as our fathers ate the manna, and died. He who eats this bread will live forever." (WEB KJV BBE WBS YLT NIV)
Hebrews 9:4 having a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which was a golden pot holding the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Revelation 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes, to him I will give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows but he who receives it. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 16:15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat. (KJV WBS)
Exodus 16:31 The house of Israel called its name Manna, and it was like coriander seed, white; and its taste was like wafers with honey. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 16:32 And Moses said: 'This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded: Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.' (See NIV)
Exodus 16:33 Moses said to Aaron, "Take a pot, and put an omer-full of manna in it, and lay it up before Yahweh, to be kept throughout your generations." (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 16:34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. (See NIV)
Exodus 16:35 The children of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land. They ate the manna until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 11:6 but now we have lost our appetite. There is nothing at all except this manna to look at." (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 11:7 The manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like the appearance of bdellium. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 11:9 When the dew fell on the camp in the night, the manna fell on it. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Deuteronomy 8:3 He humbled you, and allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you didn't know, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh does man live. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Deuteronomy 8:16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers didn't know; that he might humble you, and that he might prove you, to do you good at your latter end: (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 5:12 The manna ceased on the next day, after they had eaten of the produce of the land. The children of Israel didn't have manna any more; but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Nehemiah 9:20 You gave also your good Spirit to instruct them, and didn't withhold your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Psalms 78:24 He rained down manna on them to eat, and gave them food from the sky. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)