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4 posted on 07/31/2021 9:07:09 PM PDT by Cronos ( )
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To: Cronos

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (To the Greater Glory of God)

From: Exodus 16:2-4, 9-12

The Manna
[2] And the whole congregation of the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, [3] and said to them, "Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."

[4] Then the Lord said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law or not.

[9] And Moses said to Aaron, "Say to the whole congregation the people of Israel, 'Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your murmurings."' [10] And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. [11] And the Lord said to Moses, [12] "I have heard the murmurings of the people of Israel; say to them, 'At twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God."'


16:1-36. The prodigy of the manna and the quails was a very important sign of God's special providence towards his people while they were in the desert. It is recounted here and in Numbers 11, but in both accounts, facts are interwoven with interpretation of same and with things to do with worship and ethics.

Some scholars have argued that the manna is the same thing as a sweet secretion that comes from the tamarisk (tamarix mannifera) when punctured by a particular insect commonly found in the mountains of Sinai. The drops of this resin solidify in the coldness of the night and some fall to the ground. They have to be gathered up early in the morning because they deteriorate at twenty-four degrees temperature (almost eighty degrees Celsius). Even today desert Arabs collect them and use them for sucking and as a sweetener in confectionery.

As we know, quails cross the Sinai peninsula on their migrations back and forth between Africa and Europe or Asia. In May or June, when they return from Africa they usually rest in Sinai, exhausted after a long sea crossing; they can be easily trapped at this point.

Although these phenomenon can show where the manna and the quail come from, the important thing is that the Israelites saw them as wonders worked by God. The sacred writer stops to describe the impact the manna had on the sons of Israel. They are puzzled by it, as can be seen from their remarks when it comes for the first time: "What is it?" they ask, which in Hebrew sounds like man hu, that is, manna (v. 15), which is how the Greek translation puts it. Indeed, the need to collect it every day gave rise to complaints about some people being greedy (v. 20) and who did not understand the scope of God's gift (v. 15). And just as manna is a divine gift to meet a basic human need (nourishment), so too the divine precepts, specifically that of the sabbath, are a free gift from the Lord (v. 28). So, obedience is not a heavy burden but the exercise of a capacity to receive the good things that God gives to those who obey him.

The prodigy of the manna will resound right through the Bible: in the "Deuteronomic" tradition it is a test that God gives his people to show them that "man does not live by bread alone, but [...] by everything that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord" (Deut 8:3). The psalmist discovers that manna is "the bread of the strong" ("of angels", says the Vulgate and the RSV), which God sent in abundance (Ps 78:23ff; cf. Ps 105:40). The book of Wisdom spells out the features of this bread from heaven "ready to eat, providing every pleasure and suited to every taste" (Wis 16:20-29). And the New Testament reveals the full depth of this "spiritual" food (1 Cor 10:3), for, as the "Catechism" teaches, "manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, 'the true bread from heaven' (Jn 6:32)" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1094).

16:1. From the Byzantine period onwards, Christian tradition has identified Sinai with the range of mountains in the south of the Sinai peninsula; these mountains go as high as 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) above sea level.

The main mountains are Djébel Serbal, Djebel Katerina and Djebel Müsa, the last mentioned of which tradition regards as Mount Sinai or Horeb. At the foot of this mountain lies the monastery of St Catherine. The desert of Sin (different from the desert of the same name running along the side of the Dead Sea: cf. the note on Num 20:1-19), is very near to this; people involved in mining the copper and turquoise that is found there used to camp there temporarily.

16:2-3. The complaining that usually precedes the desert prodigies (cf. 14:11; 15:24; 17:3; Num 11:1, 4; 14:2; 20:2; 21:4-5) brings into focus the chosen people's lack of faith and hope, and (by contrast) the faithfulness of God, who time and again alleviates their needs even though they do not deserve it. At the same time, just as Moses and Aaron listened patiently to complaints, God too is always ready to dialogue with the sinner, sometimes listening to his complaints and sorting them out, and sometimes simply giving him a chance to repent: "Although God could inflict punishment on those whom he condemns without saying anything, he does not do so; on the contrary, up to the point when he does condemn, he speaks with the guilty person and lets him talk, so as to help him avoid condemnation" (Origen, Homiliae in leremiam, 1, 1).

5 posted on 07/31/2021 10:02:17 PM PDT by fidelis (Defeatism and despair are like poison to men's souls. If you can't be positive, at least be quiet.)
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