“Manna” Still Being Eaten
THE Bible tells how God fed the nation of Israel on manna for the forty years that they were in the wilderness. It resembled white seeds and was sweet, “like that of flat cakes with honey.” (Ex. 16:13-31) In view of this description it is of interest to note what the American National Geographic magazine had to say in its December, 1957, issue about manna, in its article, “Bringing Old Testament Times to Life.”
“Once again we find a Bible story buttressed by solid fact, for the miracle of the manna from heaven recurs annually in Sinai. Every summer without fail, white droplets of a sweet and nourishing substance appear mysteriously on the bushes. At peak season a man can gather more than two pounds of it a day.
“In 1927 a zoologist of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, Professor F. S. Bodenheimer, journeyed to the Sinai peninsula in quest of the secret of manna. His trained eye quickly unraveled the mystery: the little honeydew drops are given off by scale insects.
“These tiny creatures suck up plant saps which, while poor in the nitrogen the insects require to balance their metabolism, are rich in carbohydrates. Using the nitrogen, they excrete the excess sap as sweet drops. Evaporation quickly converts the liquid into a sticky solid.
“To this day, manna is a favorite confection in the Near East. The most famous variety comes from Kurdistan, and venders hawk cakes of it on the streets of Bagdad under the name of man.”
While without doubt a miracle was necessary to supply all the Israelites with enough manna and especially to supply twice as much on each Friday and none on their sabbath or Saturday, yet it truly is of interest that this manna may have a natural basis and may still be found (apparently only) in that part of the world where the Bible records that the Israelites subsisted upon it.