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Numbers 11:7-9 – Bread from Heaven

Summary

The manna that began to "rain" from heaven in the earliest days of the exodus (Exodus 16:4) continues to feed the people.

Analysis

Here we find a fuller and somewhat different description of the manna, God's provision of food in the desert. It is like coriander seed; it can be boiled, and cakes can be made from it that taste like "cakes baked with oil." In other words, it is rich food, and the complaints of the people in the stories surrounding this text--especially of "the rabble"--are unjustified.


The "bread of heaven" lives on in Christian piety as a sign of divine grace and favor. It sustains a "pilgrim through this barren land" in William Williams's hymn, "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah"; a stained glass window in the fourteenth-century St. Jacob's Church in Rothenburg, Germany, depicts the manna scene as a group of German peasants in medieval garb upon whom it is raining pretzels!

Numbers 11:7-9

7 Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its colour was like the colour of gum resin. 8The people went around and gathered it, ground it in mills or beat it in mortars, then boiled it in pots and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. 9When the dew fell on the camp in the night, the manna would fall with it.

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10 February 2011

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