What is manna?

by Matt Slick

Manna is the food that God provided for the Hebrews when they were wandering in the desert after they fled the enslavement of Egypt.  It is spoken about in Exodus 16:1-36.  God needed to provide it for the Hebrews because the desert could not sustain the large population of the Jews as they wandered for 40 years (Exodus 16:35).  We see that God both freed them and fed them.

God gave instruction to the Hebrews to go out each morning where they would find the manna on the ground that was somehow placed there with the morning dew.  Manna is described as being a "fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground" (Exodus 16:14), and "...was like coriander seed, white; and its taste was like wafers with honey," (Exodus 16:31).  The Hebrews were instructed to gather one omer (about 1/2 gallon) of manna daily for their sustenance, and two omers on the day before the Sabbath since they were not to work on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:16, 22).  Manna could be ground into a fine powder, boiled, and formed into cakes to be cooked (Numbers 11:8).  Gathering more than was commanded would result in it spoiling (Exodus 16:20).  At one point, the Israelites complained about the manna, apparently being tired of having the same thing every day and desiring other food.  God punished them with an excess of quail (Numbers 11:4-6, 18-20).  After the Jews entered Canaan, the provision of manna stopped (Joshua 5:12). 

Manna is also referred to as "food from heaven" (Psalm 78:24), the "bread of angels"(Psalm 78:25), and "the bread of heaven" (Psalm 105:40).

God instructed that a jar of Manna be kept in the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 16:33-34) along with the 10 Commandments and Aaron's rod.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.