You Are What You Eat | Manna

In the Hebrew Bible, manna is described twice: once in Exodus 16:1–36 with the full narrative surrounding it, and once again in Numbers 11:1–9 as a part of a separate narrative. In the description in the Book of Exodus, manna is described as being “a fine, flake-like thing” like the frost on the ground. It is described in the Book of Numbers as arriving with the dew during the night. Exodus adds that manna was comparable to hoarfrost in color, and similarly had to be collected before it was melted by the heat of the sun, and was like a coriander seed in size but white in color. Numbers describes it as having the appearance of bdellium, adding that the Israelites ground it and pounded it into cakes, which were then baked, resulting in something that tasted like cakes baked with oil. Exodus states that raw manna tasted like wafers that had been made with honey. The Israelites were instructed to eat only the manna they had gathered for each day. Stored manna “bred worms and stank”: the exception being that stored the day before the Sabbath (Preparation Day), when twice the amount of manna was gathered. This manna did not spoil overnight. Exodus 16:23–24 states: This is what the Lord commanded: “Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.” So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it.

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