Manna from Heaven?

mannaAnyone who’s been to church, especially as a child, knows the story of the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years and how God provided manna from Heaven for them to eat when there wasn’t much else.

Let’s assume this story is 100% true as represented in the Bible and think about it as adults. After all, although we were taught these stories as children, we don’t have to continue to think of them as we did when we were children.

The main story is found in Exodus 16. There is a parallel story in Numbers 11 where God punishes the Israelites with too much quail.

In the story, manna rains down from heaven every morning on 6 of 7 days a week (skipping the Sabbath) for 40 years! So the first question arises, where is ‘heaven’ in this story? It can be inferred that it is ‘above’ the area between Egypt and Israel. Is heaven ‘above’ the whole earth in the story? If so, does that imply a flat earth? How can heaven be above a spherical object that is both spinning through space and orbiting the sun? Or on the other hand, is heaven in a geosynchronous orbit above the middle east?

Next question: why did manna rain down from heaven? Was there a manna oven in heaven cooking this manna up? Were angels madly working in a heavenly kitchen and then shaking the results over the edge of heaven to rain down on the desert? Why couldn’t it just manifest itself right there on the ground? After all, God spoke the universe into existence from nothing. We can assume he could just say to the universe or whatever mechanism does the implementation of his spoken commands, ‘manifest some manna down there!’ and it would be done.

There are a lot of fairly comical stories about the manna. Mostly about people complaining about it. They complained they were hungry and God provided manna. But then they got sick of the manna so God forced approximately 6 trillion quail on them (so many that it would come out their nostrils). But why was God angry about this? After all he created us to get bored and sick of eating the same thing over and over. I know I do and if I’m made in his image, he should understand. Furthermore, wouldn’t it be a much more impressive miracle to provide a menu to the Israelites and every morning, each of their favorite foods would just show up in their corresponding tent? Now that’s a god worthy of worship! I guess he was trying to teach them a lesson to be happy with little or something but I think they had a point. They had better meals in Egypt.

Finally, what did the livestock eat for 40 years? There isn’t much grass in the desert and the people were eating mostly manna so what did the livestock eat? I guess you could just say the livestock did eat manna. After all, God can perform a miracle wherein the animals can eat something other than their usual provisions. I believe that’s what he would have had to do on Noah’s ark after all.

As with most of these stories, when you really think about them, they dissolve in your thoughts the way the manna disolved when it was left in the sun.


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