The miraculous food given by God to the Israelites during their wanderings in the desert. It was a small grain, white like hoarfrost, round, and of the size of coriander-seed, Exodus 16:1-36 Numbers 11:1-35. It fell every morning, with the dew, about the camp of the Israelites, and in so great quantities during the whole forty years of their journey in the wilderness, that it was sufficient to serve the entire multitude instead of bread, Exodus 16:35 Deuteronomy 29:5,6 Joshua 5:12. It is nowhere said that the Israelites had no other food, that numerous flocks and herds accompanied the camp of Israel is clear from many passages. Certainly the daily sacrifices were offered, and no doubt to her offerings affording animal food on which the priests and Levites subsisted, according to their offices.
When manna was first sent the Israelites "knew not what it was," and "said one to another", MAN-HU, which means, What is it? Most interpreters think that form the frequent repetition of this inquiry the name MAN or manna arose. Burckhardt says, that in the valleys around Sinai a species of manna is still found, dropping from the sprigs of several trees, but principally from the tamarisk, in the month of June. It is collected by the Arabs, who make cakes of it, and call it honey of betrouk. See Exodus 16:31. Since his time it has been ascertained by Dr. Ehrenburg that the exudation of this manna is occasioned by an insect, which he has particularly described. Besides this substance and the manna of commerce, which is used as a laxative medicine, and is produced by the ash-trees of southern Europe, several other vegetable products in Arabia, Persia, etc., of similar origin and qualities, are known by the same name. It is in vain, however, to seek to identify with any of these the manna of the Israelites, which was evidently a special provision for them, beginning and terminating with their need of it. It was found, not on trees and shrubs, but on "the face of the wilderness" wherever they went; and was different in its qualities from any now known by that name, being dry enough to grind and bake like grain, but breeding worms on the second day. It was miraculous in the amount that fell, for the supply of millions; in not falling on the Sabbath; in falling in double quantities the previous day; and in remaining fresh during the Sabbath. By these last three peculiarities God miraculously attested the sanctity of the Sabbath, as dating from the creation and not from Mount Sinai. Moreover, a specimen of manna as laid up in a golden vase in the ark of the covenant in memory of a substance which would otherwise have perished, Hebrews 9:4.
In Psalms 78:24-25, manna is called "angels’ food" and "corn of heaven," in token of its excellence, and that it came directly from the hand of God. The people gathered on an average about three quarts for each man. They who gathered more than they needed, shared it freely with others; it could not be hoarded up: and thus, as Paul teaches us, 2 Corinthians 8:13-15, it furnishes for all men a lesson against hoarding the earthly and perishable gifts of God, and in favor of freely imparting to our brethren in need.
This great boon of God to the Israelites also offers many striking analogies, illustrative of "the true Bead" which came down form heaven to rebellious and perishing man, John 6:31-58 Revelation 2:17. Like the manna, Christ descends from above around the camp of his church in daily abundant supplies, to meet the wants of every man.