What is Manna? Bible Story of Wilderness Miracle Explained (2023)

When the Israelites fled Egypt, after over four hundred years of slavery, they spent forty years wandering in the wilderness before they entered the Promised Land. During this time, God provided substance for them to eat every day in the form of quail (meat) and manna (Exodus 16).

Manna, basically a word that means “what is it?” is a bread-like substance that fell from heaven (Psalm 78:24), and that tasted like honey.

The Israelites would go and collect a daily portion of manna each day, ensuring to get a double portion before the Sabbath (so they didn’t work for their food on the Sabbath). If they grabbed too much or too little, they suffered the consequences (Exodus 16:20).

An exercise in trusting God’s provisions, the Israelites ate this bread of heaven throughout their several-decade stay in the wilderness.

Where Is Manna Mentioned in the Bible?

We see manna first introduced in Exodus 16. Right before this, the Israelites complained to Moses, saying he brought them out to the desert to die, with no food substance.

While they grumble and say their days in slavery in Egypt were better, God provides food and doesn’t let them go hungry.

Numbers 11:8 describes what the Israelites did with this bread from heaven. They made it into cakes, boiled it, and ground it into flour.

Deuteronomy 8:3, which Jesus later quotes when tempted by Satan, mentions these provisions from God – although it also mentions that man does not live by bread alone. Even if we fulfill our physical needs, we have spiritual needs as well. John 6:38 makes mention of manna as well. It says that even though manna filled the physical needs of the Israelites, it didn’t prevent death.

(Video) Moses: Miracles in the Wilderness!- 100 Bible Stories

On the other hand, the bread of life (Jesus) prevents spiritual death.

Psalm 78:23-25 calls manna “the bread of angels,” since this manna appeared to fall from the sky like snow. Another psalm, Psalm 105:40, talks about how God cared for the needs of the Israelites in the wilderness.

Apart from Jesus quoting the Deuteronomy passage and the John passage above mentioning manna, we don’t see the term pop up in the New Testament. However, Jesus does make an emphasis of bread throughout his ministry.

He primarily refers to himself as the bread of life (John 6:35) and explains that we need the true bread from heaven for our spiritual survival.

Jesus also breaks bread during the last supper to show his body would be broken for us (1 Corinthians 11:24).

What Is Manna Made Of? And Do We Have Anything Similar?

Because of its name “what is it?” we don’t exactly know the contents of manna. We do know it was sweet and looked like small white coriander seeds.

Some have conjectured it was made from a sweet beetle cocoonthat grows on green leaves in desert plants.

However, we do have to keep in mind that not all scientific explanations fully fit the narratives found in the Old and New Testaments. For instance, scientists try to form natural explanations for the Ten Plagues in Egypt, which appear to be clearly supernatural phenomena.

Also, in this narrative, God stops the manna in Joshua 5:12 as soon as they eat the food in the Promised Land. Either all those poor beetles died out in one day, or we need an alternate explanation.

(Video) Exodus 16: Manna and Quail | Bible Stories

In either case, we do technically have something similar (listed in the article above), but if this is truly manna, we may never know.

What is Manna? Bible Story of Wilderness Miracle Explained (1)

Where Did the Manna Come From?

In the Bible, we have two types of manna, and both come from God and heaven alone. We’ll discuss both in this section.

We have the physical manna: the edible manna the Israelites ate in the desert. As mentioned in this article, we don’t know the physical or chemical composition of manna. We can hazard scientific explanations, but sometimes the way Old Testament authors used images may be different than how we would describe items from heaven.

For instance, if we observe the passage from Ezekiel describing angels, we may have no way to wrap our mind around all those eyes and wheels (Ezekiel 1:16).

Then we have the second type of manna: the bread of life, Jesus.

Jesus comes to us in the wilderness (the space between here and heaven) and provides for us the true substance we need. We need him, the bread of life, to spiritually survive.

We can try to describe Jesus, but Jesus is far more complex than a human explanation. Just like manna, we come up short, and end up with, “What is it?”

Both types of manna come from heaven. God provides the manna we need.

(Video) Moses in the Wilderness | Stories of the Bible

Why Did God Send Manna to the Israelites?

God sent manna for a few reasons during the Israelites’ time in the desert.

First, and most practically, he wanted to meet a physical need. They didn’t have many options for food in the wilderness, and they’d begun to think that God had led them into a death trap. God provides food for them to show he meets our needs, even when situations seem most dire.

Secondly, God wants the Israelites to practice trust and obedience.

Some Israelites take too much manna on some days, and it rots in their tents, full of maggots. Other Israelites don’t obey God’s command to collect double portions before the Sabbath, and they end up hungry on the Sabbath because manna didn’t fall that day.

God provided manna as a way to rely on him fully. If he provided manna, and the Israelites had a fresh grain supply nearby, they wouldn’t really care about God’s provisions.

But they had few options in the wilderness, so they had to exercise trust that God would provide the next day, the same way he had the day before.

Thirdly, God wanted to foreshadow the most important manna from heaven: Jesus.

Although he provided for the physical needs of the Israelites, he knew they, along with all of mankind, needed a permanent, not temporary, solution to their need for spiritual bread.

God provides by way of Jesus’ ministry on earth, and through his death and resurrection.

(Video) God's Story: Wilderness

Because of the bread of life, we no longer hunger. Because of the bread of life, we have a chance to live.

What is Manna for Christians Today?

As mentioned above, we need spiritual bread. Although God does provide for our physical needs, we need far more than physical bread alone. We need the bread of life to survive.

Also, God may sometimes place us in a wilderness setting. Maybe we’ve relied too much on our own abilities or our own “bread” in a metaphorical sense, that we’ve forgotten from whom all good gifts come.

During such times, we need to exercise trust and obedience. Maybe God has placed us in a financially unstable situation, and we’ll still trust to tithe (knowing he’ll provide), for instance.

No matter what the case, we are always in a wilderness, until we reach heaven. Whether we are in dire need of bread or have provisions, we haven’t reached the Promised Land yet.

During this in-between, here-not-yet period, we have to trust in the Lord and obey him.

We need to trust in the bread of life, the true manna, for our physical and spiritual well-being.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images Plus/Oxana Medvedeva

Hope Bolingeris an acquisitions editor at End Game Press, and the author 21+ books. More than 1400 of her works have been featured in various publications. Check out her books at hopebolinger.comfor clean books in most genres, great for adults and kids.

(Video) God gives manna | Animated Bible Stories | My First Bible | 24

FAQs

What was the manna in the wilderness? ›

Manna (Hebrew: מָן, romanized: mān, Greek: μάννα; Arabic: اَلْمَنُّ; sometimes or archaically spelled mana) is, according to the Bible, an edible substance which God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert during the 40-year period following the Exodus and prior to the conquest of Canaan.

What is the literal meaning of manna in the Bible? ›

1 : food miraculously supplied to the Israelites in the wilderness. 2 : a usually sudden and unexpected source of pleasure or gain. manna. noun.

What can we learn from manna? ›

The lesson of manna is not only that God provides, and not only that God provides in the moment of need, but that God provides every day, and that every day I must go and I must seek it again. There is not enough today for tomorrow—just enough for today.

Why did the Israelites call it manna? ›

When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, 'What is it? ' ” In ancient Hebrew, “what is it” can be rendered man-hu, a likely derivation of what this food has come to be called, manna. The Bible describes it as being “like coriander seed,” and “white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.”

What led to the gift of manna and quails in the wilderness? ›

The Miracle in the Wilderness. When the Israelites fled Egypt, after over four hundred years of slavery, they spent forty years wandering in the wilderness before they entered the Promised Land. During this time, God provided substance for them to eat every day in the form of quail (meat) and manna (Exodus 16).

How does manna represent Jesus? ›

Parry, “Manna: Symbol of Jesus Christ,” in The Jesus Christ Focused Old Testament: Making Sense of a Monumental Book (Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central, 2022), 126–127.
...
MannaJesus Christ
The lord God gave manna to the children of Israel.God “gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16) to the children of men.
8 more rows

What was manna in the Bible made of? ›

Others recognize it from the Bible as the food sent by God to feed the Hebrews during their 40 years in the desert, a sort of hoarfrost that fell on the land at night and was collected, milled and baked into small loaves of the bread.

How long did the Israelites eat manna? ›

The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.

What spiritual lessons can we learn from the Lord's instructions to the Israelites about manna? ›

Spiritual Nourishment

The Israelites' need to gather manna daily was symbolic of our need to make daily efforts to rely on the Lord. From this account, we can learn that if we rely on the Lord daily, He will bless us with the spiritual nourishment we need for that day.

What does the Lord give us that is like daily manna? ›

The Word of God is Our Manna

The Word of God is our bread from heaven; our manna. This is what replenishes our souls and gives us strength (Psalm 119:28); it is what feeds our spirits. In fact it is what fed even Jesus' spirit.

Was manna bread or flour? ›

Manna Bread is made from sprouted grains. The sprouts are ground, shaped into loaves and cooked at a low temperature. And unlike mainstream breads, Manna Bread doesn't have salt, sugar, yeast, or gluten. The result is a flourless, cake-like bread 1 that is nutrient dense and easy to digest.

How many times did God send manna? ›

To meet the needs of the Israelites in the wilderness, God sent manna six days a week. This practice continued day after day, year after year. The people were not allowed to keep any overnight to provide for the next day, except on the day before the Sabbath.

What happened to the manna that wasn't gathered? ›

The day before the Sabbath, twice as much manna fell, and the Lord told the children of Israel to gather enough for two days. On the Sabbath day they did not receive any manna, but the manna they gathered the day before did not go bad. The Lord preserved it for His people (see Ex. 16:16–24).

Why did some of the Israelites take more manna than they needed each day? ›

But God told the people to only gather enough manna to feed their family. God wanted them to do exactly as he said and remember that he would take care of them. But some of the people did not listen. They were greedy and gathered more than God had told them to.

How much manna were the Israelites instructed to take? ›

An omer (around two quarts) was the measure the Israelites used to determine how much was enough when gathering manna.

What does manna from heaven represent? ›

If you say that something unexpected is manna from heaven, you mean that it is good and happened just at the time that it was needed. Downloading music from the Internet has been manna from heaven for some consumers.

What plant does manna come from? ›

Certain resins produced by the camel's thorn plant (Alhagi maurorum) are known as manna; it is a spiny-branched shrub less than 1 metre (about 3 feet) tall and is native to Turkey. An edible white honeylike substance known as manna forms drops on the stem of salt cedars, or French tamarisk trees (Tamarix gallica).

When did the manna dry up? ›

In the Book of Joshua, we read, “And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” (Josh. 5:12) The day they tasted the fruit of the Promised Land, the manna ceased.

What kind of bread is manna? ›

Manna Bread is remarkably simple and wholesome, best described as a unique, cake-like sprouted bread, made of all-organic and kosher ingredients, such as whole wheat, whole rye, and whole seeds, as well as dried no-sugar-added fruits and shelled nuts.

When did the manna cease to fall? ›

Joshua 5:12 (WEB) The manna ceased on the next day, after they had eaten of the produce of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

What kind of food is manna? ›

An edible white honeylike substance known as manna forms drops on the stem of salt cedars, or French tamarisk trees (Tamarix gallica). A scale insect that feeds on tamarisks also secretes honeydew (a sweet by-product of digestion) known as manna.

What are the ingredients in manna? ›

MULTIGRAIN GOODNESS: Manna Health Mix contains the goodness of 14 Natural Cereals, Pulses, Grains and Nuts. viz. Ragi, Bajra, Corn, Jowar, Wheat, Barley, Red Rice, Green Gram, Bengal Gram, Ground Nuts, Cashew Nuts and Almonds.

Is there still manna today? ›

But manna is more than a literary anachronism -- it actually exists today in Italy, in a small corner of the island of Sicily.

Was Manna bread or flour? ›

Manna Bread is made from sprouted grains. The sprouts are ground, shaped into loaves and cooked at a low temperature. And unlike mainstream breads, Manna Bread doesn't have salt, sugar, yeast, or gluten. The result is a flourless, cake-like bread 1 that is nutrient dense and easy to digest.

What is today's manna? ›

Todays Manna is a daily devotional that seeks to inspire while providing solid Bible teaching with a challenge for spiritual growth.

How do I get manna? ›

To apply for MANNA services, please have your medical care provider complete a MANNA referral form. Once the form is complete, fax it back to MANNA's Nutrition & Client Services department at 215-496-9102 and we will contact you. (Note: You can also refer yourself by calling (215) 496-2662 x5.

What's the meaning of manna from heaven? ›

phrase [oft v-link PHR] If you say that something unexpected is manna from heaven, you mean that it is good and happened just at the time that it was needed.

Is Ezekiel bread Manna Bread? ›

Manna, or Ezekiel bread is our organic loaf of bread from sprouted wheat. Our manna bread from Everfresh does not contain yeast, fat, eggs, salt, sugar or dairy products. It is made from wheat sprouts of exceptional quality and filtered water without the addition of preservatives or additives.

How many years did the Israelites eat manna? ›

The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.

Where did manna fall in Africa? ›

Namba Mission is one of the pioneering mission stations of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the central region of Angola, popularly known for its falling of manna.

Videos

1. MANNA QUAIL AND WATER Bible Story
(Arnold Flater)
2. Manna... What is it?
(History of Redemption)
3. The Journey of Israel in the Wilderness English Bible Story l Pamana
(ANG PAMANA TV)
4. God Provides Food and Water Bible Animation (Exodus 16-17)
(CartoonWorks)
5. Manna - What the Heaven was it?
(Gospel Lessons)
6. 40 Years in the Wilderness - Exodus & Deuteronomy: Sunday School Lesson and Bible Teaching Story VBS
(Sharefaith Kids)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Last Updated: 01/30/2023

Views: 5881

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Birthday: 1992-02-16

Address: Suite 851 78549 Lubowitz Well, Wardside, TX 98080-8615

Phone: +67618977178100

Job: Manufacturing Director

Hobby: Running, Mountaineering, Inline skating, Writing, Baton twirling, Computer programming, Stone skipping

Introduction: My name is Wyatt Volkman LLD, I am a handsome, rich, comfortable, lively, zealous, graceful, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.