Manna and Complaints | Exodus 16:2-15

“Thanks a lot Moses and Aaron! We’re no longer slaves in Egypt and we’re hungry. Way to go, guys!” Can you empathize with the fleshly attitude of the Israelites?


Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. -Exodus 16:4


Along with God giving them Quail at twilight, and Moses and Aaron deflecting the blame to God, the scenario unfolds as follows:


14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?”[a] For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. -Exodus 16:14-15


Manna (Hebrew: מָן‎‎) or al-Mann (Arabic: المَنّ) ‎‎, or sometimes archaically spelled mana, is an edible substance which, according to the Bible and the Quran, God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness during the Exodus, prior to the conquest of Canaan.

Some scholars have proposed that manna is cognate with the Egyptian term mennu, meaning “food”. [1]

However, the name “manna” is said to derive from the question man hu, seemingly meaning “What is it?” It is suggested that this is an Aramaic etymology, versus a Hebrew one. Interestingly enough, the Arabic version Man seems to be an answer to the Aramaic phrase meaning, “this is plant lice”

Whatever the ancient cross-cultural context may be, God provided for his people in response to their complaining- not in response to their praise or admirable behavior- even in the Old Testament.

[1]. George Ebers, Durch Gosen zum Sinai, p. 236

The Rev. Dr. Nicole Foster the T.V. Host and founding minister of The Hippie Theologian. She holds a Doctor of Ministry from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, a Master of Divinity from Redeemer Theological Seminary and a B.A. in History from Southern Methodist University. She’s an ordained Anglican minister and teaches Old Testament for various organizations. She loves to hike, camp, make organic soap, and be a beach bum as often as possible.

1 comment on “Manna and Complaints | Exodus 16:2-15

  1. Nicole Foster

    Reblogged this on The New Exodus.


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