When the Israelites saw it, they asked, "What is it?" The Hebrew word for manna essentially means "whatchmacallit." It could be cooked, boiled or baked. However, it could not be stored. If anyone tried to hoard it, it turned rancid overnight.
THIS WEEK'S TORAH PORTION:
- Beshalach (בשלח | When he sent)
- Torah: Exodus
- Haftarah: Judges 4:4-5:31
- Gospel: Matthew 5
Manna and MaterialismThe journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai symbolizes spiritual growth. Israel leaving Egypt can be compared to the new believer, a born-again infant. The baby has to learn to walk, to talk, and to eat solid foods. Israel's first forty-nine days in the wilderness were filled with growing experiences. Soon after leaving Egypt, their food supplies were exhausted. Facing starvation, the children of Israel cried out, again complaining that it would have been better to have died in Egypt with a full stomach than to die of starvation in the wilderness. Miraculously, the LORD sent a flock of quail for meat, and introduced them to the angelic bread with which He would sustain them in the wilderness for the next forty years.
Every morning, a layer of dew settled over the camp of Israel. When the dew evaporated, it left behind a thin, flake-like covering that the Torah compares to frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they asked, "What is it?" The Hebrew word man (מן) means "what." Manna essentially means "whatchmacallit."
Manna was amazing stuff. It had all the nutrition necessary to sustain a large population for forty years. It appeared every morning and in an adequate amount so that no one went hungry. It could be cooked, boiled or baked. However, it could not be stored. If anyone tried to hoard it, it turned rancid overnight.
Manna can teach us about money and materialism. God provides the bounty of the material world for our welfare. He provides adequately for our needs, sometimes in scarcity, sometimes with abundance, but always with sufficiency. "He who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack" (Exodus). When we try to hoard wealth, though, it can turn into something spiritually ugly. Just as the manna turned rancid and wormy, hoarded wealth sickens the soul. It causes us to cling to material things. We no longer need to rely on God because we can rely upon our savings and investments. We no longer need to pray for our daily bread, as Yeshua taught us to do. As Yeshua warned us, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew ).
Not that there is any special merit in being poor. But it is much more difficult to be affluent and keep your spiritual footing. The wealthy disciple must exercise constant vigilance against the deceits of wealth. He must keep his hand open and generous, and he must be able to lay it all aside for the sake of the kingdom.