BibleAsk Team

Did the manna in the wilderness come from a plant?

The Manna

The manna was the food that the Israelites ate for 40 years in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:3; Nehemiah 9:15; Psalms 78:23–25; 105:40; John 6:31). It was a miracle and not a natural phenomena.

Skeptic View

Some modern Bible skeptics claim that the “manna” (Exodus 16:15) was merely the result of a secretion of various plant lice. Examining this in 1927, F. S. Bodenheimer, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discovered that different plant lice, cicadas, and scale insects feed on the tamarisk trees of the Sinai wilderness and expel their excess carbohydrates in the form of honeydew droplets. This latter material evaporated into elements that look like hoar frost. This is supposed to be the “manna” that Josephus (Antiquities iii. 1. 6) stated that still existed in Sinai at his time.

The Bible

But accepting the account of Exodus 16 excludes the possibility that the “manna” of the tamarisk could have been the miraculous food that the Israelites ate for 40 years. For God’s manna was given throughout the year, but stopped as soon as they reached the Promised Land (Joshua 5:12).

It is essential to know that the tamarisk is found in nature in Sinai only during June and July. And the amount of this plant is very limited in quantity and could not in any way have fed the multitudes who were over 2 million, whereas God rained His heavenly manna on a whole nation for about 40 years.

In addition, the heavenly manna could not be kept to the following day, except on Sabbath (Exodus 16:19, 20), and could be baked (verse 23). In contrast, tamarisk “manna” can be kept for several days, but cannot be used for baking purposes.

These points of contrast clearly reveal that acceptance of the modern skeptics account, which explains the manna as a natural product of Sinai, means not being logical and refusal of the Biblical account. These modern explanations are given with the goal of rejecting the miraculous nature of the heavenly manna, but are in reality without credit.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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