/man"euh/, n.1. the food miraculously supplied to the Israelites in the wilderness. Ex. 16:14-36.2. any sudden or unexpected help, advantage, or aid to success.3. divine or spiritual food.4. the exudation of the ash Fraxinus ornus and related plants: source of mannitol.[bef. 900; ME, OE < LL < Gk mánna < Heb man]
* * *▪ botanyin botany, any of a variety of plants and plant products. Manna is the common name for certain lichens of the genus Lecanora native to Turkey, especially L. esculenta. In the Middle East lichen bread and manna jelly are made from Lecanora. Manna also refers to resins produced by two plants called camel's thorns (Alhagi maurorum and A. pseudalhagi). Both are spiny-branched shrubs less than 1 m (about 3 feet) tall and are native to Turkey. An edible, white honeylike substance known as manna forms drops on the stem of a tamarisk tree, Tamarix mannifera. A scale insect either punctures the stem, triggering the exudation, or secretes the manna itself.The flowering ash, or manna ash (Fraxinus ornus), is the source of a sugar-alcohol, mannitol, which has been used medicinally. The substance is obtained for commercial exploitation by slashing the branches of the tree and collecting the juice that extrudes and hardens. This sweetish material is sold in the form of flakes (flake manna), fragments (common manna), or thick droplets (fat manna).▪ foodin biblical literature, one or more of the foods that sustained the Hebrews during the 40 years that intervened between their Exodus from Egypt and their arrival in the Promised Land. The word is perhaps derived from the question man hu? (“What is it?”), asked by the Hebrews when they first tasted the substances that they found growing or deposited by the wind on the arid land that they inhabited. The manna was gathered and was used in part to prepare bread, and it was therefore referred to as “bread from heaven.”In the interpretation of some Old Testament scholars, manna was miraculous in the sense that even in the desert food was available and that a double portion was available on Friday, freeing the Hebrews from the need to violate their Sabbath by gathering food. In the New Testament, Jesus spoke of himself as the “true bread from heaven” (John 6:32), and manna consequently is a Christian symbol for the Eucharist.
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