(מָן, man, according to Gesenius, a portion, from the Arabic; but a different derivation is alluded to in the passage where it first occurs [see Thym, De origine vocis Manna, etc., Vitemb. 1641]), the name given to the miraculous food upon which the Israelites were fed for forty years during their wanderings in the desert. The same name has in later ages been applied to some natural productions, chiefly found in warm, dry countries, but which have little or no resemblance to the original manna. This is first mentioned in Exodus 16. It is there described as being first produced after the eighth encampment in the desert of Sin, as white like hoar frost (or of the color of bdellium, Nu 11:7), round, and of the bigness of coriander seed (gad). It fell with the dew every morning, and when the dew was exhaled by the heat of the sun, the manna appeared alone, lying upon the ground or the rocks round the encampment of the Israelites. "When the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, What is it? for they knew not what it was" (Ex 16:15). In the authorized and some other versions this passage is inaccurately translated — which, indeed, is apparent from the two parts of the sentence contradicting each other ("It is manna; for they wist not what it was"). The word occurs only in Ex 16:15,31,33,5; Nu 11:6-7,9; De 8:3,16; Jos 5:12; Ne 9:20; Ps 78:24. In the Sept. the substance is almost always called manna (μάννα, and so the N. Test. always: Joh 6:31,49,58; Heb 9:4; Re 2:17; also the Apocrypha, Wisd. 16:20, 21) instead of man (μάν, Ex 16:31,33,35). Josephus (Ant. 3:1, 6), in giving an account of this substance, thus accords with the textual etymology: "The Hebrews call this food manna (μάννα), for the particle manuz (μάν) in our language is the asking of a question, 'What is this?' (Heb. מִןאּהוּא, man-hu)." Moses answered this question by telling them, "This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat." We are further informed that the manna fell every day, except on the Sabbath. Every sixth day, that is on Friday, there fell a double quantity of it. Every man was directed to gather an omer (about three English quarts) for each member of his family; and the whole seems afterwards to have been measured out at the rate of an omer to each person: "He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack." That which remained ungathered dissolved in the heat of the sun, and was lost. The quantity collected was intended for the food of the current day only, for if any were kept till next morning it corrupted and bred worms. Yet it was directed that a double quantity should be gathered on the sixth day for consumption on the Sabbath. It was found that the manna kept for the Sabbath remained sweet and wholesome, notwithstanding that it corrupted at other times if kept for more than one day. In the same manner as they would have treated grain, they reduced it to meal, kneaded it into dough, and baked it into cakes, and the taste of it was like that of wafers made with honey or of fresh oil. In Nu 11:6-9, where the description of the manna is repeated, an omer of it is directed to be preserved as a memorial to future generations, 'that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness;" and in Jos 5:12 we learn that after the Israelites had encamped at Gilgal, and "did eat of the old corn of the land, the manna ceased on the morrow after, neither had the children of Israel manna any more." This miracle is referred to in De 8:3; Ne 9:20; Ps 78:24; Joh 6:31,49,58; Heb 9:4. Though the manna of Scripture was so evidently miraculous, both in the mode and in the quantities in which it was produced, and though its properties were so different from anything with which we are acquainted. yet, because its taste is in Exodus said to be like that of wafers made with honey, many writers have thought that they recognized the manna of Scripture in a sweetish exudation which is found on several plants in Arabia and Persia. The name man, or manna, is applied to this substance by the Arab writers, and was probably so applied even before their time. But the term is now almost entirely appropriated to the sweetish exudation of the ash-trees of Sicily and Italy (Ornus Europaea and Fiaxuinus rotundidfilia). These, however, have no relation to the supposed manna of Scripture. Of this one kind is known to the Arabs by the name of guzunjbin, being the produce of a plant called guz, which is ascertained to be a species of tamarisk. The same species seems also to be called turfa, and is common along different parts of the coast of Arabia. It is also found in the neighborhood of Mount Sinai. Burckhardt, while in the valley wady el-Sheik, to the north of Mount Serbal, says: "In many parts it was thickly overgrown with the tamarisk or turfa; it is the only valley in the Peninsula where this tree grows at present in any quantity, though some small bushes are here and there met with in other parts. It is from the tufa that the manna is obtained; and it is very strange that the fact should have remained unknown in Europe till M. Seetzen mentioned it in a brief notice of his 'Tour to Sinai,' published in the Mines de l'Orient. The substance is called by the Arabs mann. In the month of June it drops from the thorns of the tamarisk upon the fallen twigs, leaves, and thorns which always cover the ground beneath the tree in the natural state. The Arabs use it as they do honey, to pour over their unleavened bread, or to dip their bread into; its taste is agreeable, somewhat aromatic, and as sweet as honey. If eaten in any quantity it is said to be highly purgative." He further adds that the tamarisk is one of the most common trees in Nubia and throughout the whole of Arabia; on the Euphrates, on the Astaboras, in all the valleys of the Hejaz and Beja it grows in great quantities, yet nowhere but in the region of Mount Sinai did he hear of its producing manna. Ehrenberg has examined and described this species of tamarisk, which he calls T. manunifera, but which is considered to be only a variety of T. gallica. The manna he considers to be produced by the puncture of an insect which he calls Coccus manniparus. Others have been of the same opinion. When Lieut Wellsted visited this place in the month of September, he found the extremities of the twigs and branches retaining the peculiar sweetness and flavor which characterize the manna. The Bedouins collect it early in the morning,, and, after straining it through a cloth, place it either in skins or gourds; a considerable quantity is consumed by themselves; a portion is sent to Cairo, and some is also disposed of to the monks at Mount Sinai. The latter retail it to the Russian pilgrims. "The Bedouins assured me that the whole quantity collected throughout the Peninsula, in the most fruitful season, did not exceed 150 wogas (about 700 pounds); and that it was usually disposed of at the rate of 60 dollars the woga" (Travels in Arabia, 1:511).
Another kind of manna, which has been supposed to be that of Scripture, is yielded by a thorny plant very common from the north of India to Syria, which by the Arabs is called Al-haj, whence botanists have constructed the name Alhagi. The two species have been called Alhagi Mauorum and A.
desertorum. Both species are also by the Arabs called ushter-khar, or "'camel's-thorn;" and in Mesopotamia aqul, according to some authorities, while by others this is thought to be the name of another plant. The Alhagi Maurorum is remarkable for the exudation of a sweetish juice, which concretes into small granular masses, and which is usually distinguished by the name of Persian manna. The late professor Don was so confident that this was the same substance as the manna of Scripture that he proposed calling the plant itself Manna Hebraica. The climate of Persia and Bokhara seems also well suited to the secretion of this manna, which in the latter country is employed as a substitute for sugar, and is imported into India for medicinal use through Caubul and Khorassan. In Arabian and Persian works on Materia Medica it is called Turungbin. These two, from the localities in which they are produced, have alone been thought to be the manna of Scripture. But, besides these, there are, several other kinds of manna. Burckhardt, during his journey through El-Ghor, in the valley of the Jordan, heard of the Beiruk honey. This is described as a substance obtained from the leaves and branches of a tree called Gharb or Gasrrab, of the size of an olive-tree, and with leaves like those of the poplar. When fresh this grayish-colored exudation is sweet in taste, but in a few days it becomes sour. The Arabs eat it like honey. One kind, called Shir-khisht, is said to be produced in the country of the Uzbecs. A Caubul merchant informed Dr. Royle that it was produced by a tree called Gundeleh, which grows in Candahar, and is about twelve feet high, with jointed stems. A fifth kind is produced on Caloropis procera, or the plant called Ashur. The sweet exudation is by Arab authors ranked with sugars, and called Shukur- al-ashur. It is described under this name by Avicenna, and in the Latin translation it is called Zuccarunz-al-husar. A sixth kind, called Bedkhisht, is described in Persian works on Materia Medica as being produced on a species of willow in Persian Khorassan. Another kind would appear to be produced on a species of oak, for Niebuhr says, "At Merdin, in Mesopotamia, it appears like a kind of pollen on the leaves of the tree called Ballot and Afs (or, according to the Aleppo pronunciation, As), which I take to be of the oak family. All are agreed that between Merdin and Diarbekir manna is obtained, and principally from those trees which yield gall-nuts." Besides these there is a sweetish exudation found on the larch, which is called Manna brigantiaca, as there is also one kind found on the cedar of Lebanon. Indeed a sweetish secretion is found on the leaves of many other plants, produced sometimes by the plant itself, at others by the punctures of insects. It has been supposed also that these sweetish exudations, being evaporated during the heat of the day in still weather, may afterwards become deposited, with the dew, on the ground and on the leaves of plants, and thus explain some of the phenomena which have been observed by travelers and others. According to Colossians Chesney, "The most remarkable production in ancient Assyria is the celebrated vegetable known here by the name of manna, which in Turkish is most expressively called Kzudret-hal-vassiz, or 'the divine sweetmeat.' It is found on the leaves of the dwarf oak, and also, though less plentifully and scarcely so good, on those of the tamarisk and several other plants. It is occasionally deposited on the sand, and also on rocks and stones. The latter is of a pure white color, and appears to be more esteemed than the tree manna. It is collected chiefly at two periods of the year, first in the early part of spring, and again towards the end of autumn; in either case the quality depends upon the rain that may have fallen, or at least on the abundance of the dews, for in the seasons which happen to be quite dry it is understood that little or none is obtained. In order to collect the manna the people go out before sunrise, and having placed cloths under the oak, larch, tamarisk, and several other kinds of shrubs, the manna is shaken down in such quantities from the branches as to give a supply for the market after providing for the wants of the different members of the family. The Kurds not only eat manna in its natural state, as they do bread or dates, but their women make it into a kind of paste; being in this state like honey, it is added to other ingredients used in preparing sweetmeats, which, in some shape or other, are found in every house throughout the East. The manna, when partially cleaned, is carried to the market at Mosul in goat-skins, and there sold in lumps at the rate of 4.5, pounds for about 2.5 d. But for family consumption, or to send to a distance out of the country, it is first thoroughly cleansed from the fragments of leaves and other foreign matter by boiling. In the natural state it is described as being of a delicate white color. It is also still, as in the time of the Israelites, like coriander seed, and of a moderate but agreeable sweetness" (Euphrates Expedition, 1:123).
"The manna of European commerce comes mostly from Calabria and Sicily. It is gathered during the months of June and July from some species of ash (Ornus Europaea and Ornus rotundifolia), from which it drops in consequence of a puncture by an insect resembling the locust, but distinguished from it by having a sting under its body. The substance is fluid at night, and resembles the dew, but in the morning it begins to harden." "The natural products of the Arabian deserts and other Oriental regions, which bear the name of manna, have not the qualities or uses ascribed to the manna of Scripture. They are all condiments or medicines rather than food, stimulating or purgative rather than nutritious; they are produced only three or four months in the year, from May to August, and not all the sear round; they come only in small quantities, never affording anything like 15,000,000 pounds a week, which must have been requisite for the subsistence of the whole Israelitish camp, since each man had an omer (or three English quarts) a day, and that for forty years; they can be kept for a long time, and do not become useless in a day or two; they are just as liable to deteriorate on the Sabbath as on any other day; nor does a double quantity fall on the day preceding the Sabbath; nor would natural products cease at once and forever, as the manna is represented as ceasing in the book of Joshua. The manna of Scripture we therefore regard as wholly miraculous, and not in any respect a product of nature." Manna is the emblem or symbol of immortality (Re 2:17): "I will give him to eat of the hidden manna;" i.e. the true bread of God, which came down from heaven, referring to the words of Christ in Joh 6:51, a much greater instance of God's favor than feeding the Israelites with manna in the wilderness. It is called hidden, or laid up, in allusion to that which was laid up in a golden vessel in the holy of holies of the tabernacle (comp. Ex 16:33-34, and Heb 9:4).
See Liebentanz, De Manna (Vitemb. 1667); Zeibich, De miraculo Mannae Israeliticae (Gerae, 1770); Hoheisel, De vasculo Mannae (Jen. 1715); Schramm, De urna Mannae (Herb. 1723); Fabri Historia Mannae, in Fabri et Reiskii Opusc. sled. Arab. (Hal. 1776), p. 121; Hardwick, in Asiatic Researches, 14:182; Frederic, in Transact. of the Lit. Society of Bombay (Lond. 1819), 1:251; Ehrenberg, Symbol. Phys. (Berl. 1829); Martius, Pharnakogn. p. 327; Oedmann, Sanml. 6:1; Buxtorf, Exercit. (Basil. 1659), p. 335 (and in Ugolini, Thesaur. vol. viii); Rosenmüller, Alterthumsk. 4:316 sq.; Kitto, Daily Bible Illust. ad loc.; Tristram, Nat. Hist. of Bible, p. 362; comp. Robinson's Researches, 1:470, 550; and other Oriental travelers.