manna mănˈə [key], in the Bible, edible substance provided by God for the people of Israel in the wilderness. In the Book of Exodus it is compared to coriander seed and described as fine, white, and flaky, with the taste of honey and wafer. In Christianity manna has been seen as prefiguring the Eucharist. The Biblical manna has been linked with the gum resin produced by several kinds of tree, especially the tamarisk tree Tamarix mannifera, with the dried sweet secretions of various insects that eat plant sap, and with a species of lichen still found in many sections of W Asia and N Africa.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Biblical Proper Names