What is the manna that the Israelites ate in the wilderness?

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The manna that the Israelites ate in the wilderness (Deut. 8:3; Neh. 9:15; Ps. 78:23–25; 105:40; John 6:31) was a miraculous act by God to provide food for His people. The word “Manna” may mean a “gift” or it could owe its origin to the exclamation of surprise that the Israelites had when they first saw it, man hu’, “What is it?” (Exodus 16: 15).

In the morning, the Israelites found the manna laying upon the surface of the ground “a small round thing, as small as the hoarfrost” (Exodus 16:14). “It was like coriander seed, white” (Numbers 11:7). The Hebrews made the manna into wafers. They described it as tasting like cakes with honey (Ex. 16:31) and as if baked with fresh oil (Num. 11:8).

They were instructed to gather daily an omer for every person; they were not to leave of it until the morning. Some attempted to keep a supply until the next day, but it was then found to be unfit for eating (Exodus 16:20).

Every week during their 40 years in the wilderness, the Israelites witnessed a threefold miracle, intended to teach them the sacredness of the Sabbath: a double amount of manna fell on the sixth day, nothing on the seventh, and the serving needed for the Sabbath was preserved without getting spoiled, when if any were kept over at any other time it became unfit for eating (Exodus 16:22-26).

“The children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came … unto the borders of the land of Canaan” (Exodus 16:35). It was a daily reminder of God’s unfailing care and tender love. The psalmist says, God gave them “of the corn of heaven. Man did eat angels’ food” (Psalm 78:24, 25) – that is, food provided for them by the angels.

The manna, falling from heaven for the sustenance of Israel, was a type of Jesus who came from God to give life to people. Said Jesus, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead … I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:48-51). Jesus assured His people saying, “To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat” (Revelation 2:17).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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