What? – Exodus 15:15, 31-32

“When the Israelites saw it, they asked one another, ‘What is it?’ because they didn’t know what it was. Moses told them, ‘It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat’… The house of Israel named the substance manna. It resembled coriander seed, was white, and tasted like wafers made with honey.” (Exodus 15:15,31-32, HCSB)

The word manna is the anglicized form of the Hebrew word man, which is the interrogative “What?”

God sent manna in response to the Israelites complaining that began not long after escaping from Egyptian bondage. The Israelites complained that in Egypt they had all the bread they wanted (vs. 3).


God continued sending manna and Israel continued eating it for forty years until the day following the first day they ate food grown in the promised land (vs 36; Joshua 5:12).

“What?” was probably a pretty good name for manna because no naturally occurring substance matches the description, constancy, and duration of manna well enough to account for it other than as a supernatural phenomenon.

During the earthly ministry of Jesus the Jews were still questioning “What?” and alluded to manna and these verses when they asked Jesus what sign He would show them to prove He was the Messiah. (John 6:30-31).

Jesus reminded them that it wasn’t Moses but God who gave the Israelites the manna and that manna typified the giving of eternal life.

In contrast to the manna, which lasted only during the Israelites’ forty-year wilderness wandering, Jesus said He was the real Bread of Life because He gives eternal life to those who believe and follow after Him!

Jesus is the answer to our “What?” He will save us and provide His loving care to us, not just for a while, but for all the days of our life on this earth and for eternity!

“For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:60, HCSB).

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