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2011-11-16

Exodus 16:9-21 talks about the wondrous manna from heaven! Moses facilitates the Lordís words to the people and tells them to only gather one omer of manna for each person in their camp, and in the evening, quail will be found to eat. There is a stipulation, however, all the food that is gathered must be eaten that same dayósaving any for tomorrow is a no-no. Most of the people gather their manna and quail, and eat it, but a few disobey God. They gathered more than they needed, and the remainder became infested with worms and rotted.

Again, what kind of people would doubt such a god? He rains freaking manna from heaven, but they have such little trust they canít obey the one-omer-per-customer rule? I can understand wavering faith in the real world where God is as apparent as the dragon in Carl Saganís garage, but in this story, the Israelites canít seem to go a day without seeing another miracle. Godís line in 16:12 is even stupider: in reference to the manna, he says ď[from this] ye shall know that I am the Lord your God.Ē Yeah, really, from some food in the desert? Not the parting of an entire sea or the magical slaying of millions in Egypt? Nope, itís the desert manna that finally tipped the belief scales! This is just poor writing.

Hereís in interesting point, what do you picture when you hear the term ďmanna from heavenĒ? Loaves of bread falling from the sky? Wheat falling down like rain? The bible has a very different explanation from what youíre probably familiar with. In the bible, God appears at night as cloud (probably completely indiscernible from an actual cloud, go fig!), but no rain is spoken of. In the early morning dew appears, and as it dries up, thin flakes of manna appear like hoar frost along the desert floor. They had to gather it quickly, lest it evaporate in the sun. Later weíll learn that raw manna tastes like honey, but cooked manna tastes like bread.

So what the heck is this stuff? It canít be bread, or even common grains, since the Israelites name it manna, which translates to ďwhat is it?Ē. Bread and grains are pretty easy to identify, but this is unknown to them. A more believable explanation comes when you scrap the Hebrew etymology in favor of the Arabic etymology, which is ďplant liceĒ. Thus, the manna was probably the sweet honeydew secretions of insects which becomes a whitish flake when they dry in the dew. This is considered a delicacy in Middle Eastern cuisine. That accounts for the honey taste, but you canít make bread from honeydew alone. It could have been that the manna was the thalli of certain lichens which are used instead of grain by some cultures not too far from that area. Not exactly a bag of Wonder bread, but itíll keep you fed. Other foods have been suggested with varying degrees of believability, but nobody will ever be certain since the bible is unclear.

None of this is in the movie.

 

Comments

Maju writes:

 

Very interesting to read your plausible theory of "what-is-it", also I did not know about Carl Sagan's dragon (another pearl).

Richard writes:

 

I always assumed, by how the story was told, that manna was actually insect eggs. How else would you end up with a bowl of maggots in the morning?

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

@Richard: The same way everything happens in the bible: MAGIC!

Baughbe writes:

 

As I recall from years ago that manna was explained in Sunday school as being a white soft bread. Of course I am so shocked that I was lied to in Sunday school. So very very shocked. (OK, what's the sarcasm reading on that tone?)

Richard writes:

 

You broke the scale, Baughbe.

Yeshivakid writes:

 

As a kid I always figured manna was kinda like flat pitas or something. But the insect egg/secretion theory makes a whole lot more sense.

 

Oh the irony!