The Malbim in Shemot 16:36 makes reference from other Meforshim to a Karaite, who says that Maan is a natural phenomenon. Does this phenomenon still exist? Does anyone know what it is called in English? Any articles would be appreciated.

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    You're just assuming the Karaite is correct?!
    – Dave
    Jan 10, 2011 at 14:34
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    Dave why would I think he would make up a concept like that Jan 10, 2011 at 23:25
  • So if he said it, that means he knew what the Monn was, and that it is a naturally occurring substance? More likely he was making an educated guess, and you are just trying to figure out what was the subject of his imagination.
    – Dave
    Jan 10, 2011 at 23:42

2 Answers 2


I don't know about Karaites, but see this post at RationalistJudaism that this was the position of Rambam, as well as that of some Yemenite midrashim:


"Rambam seems to have shared the view found in certain Yemenite Midrashic texts (and see too Ibn Ezra to Shemos 16:13), that manna is essentially a naturally-occurring substance. It was miraculous in it occurring with unnatural properties (according to the Epistle Against Galen) and with constantly fortuitous timing (according to the Guide). (See the extract from Rabbi Nataniel ben Yeshayah, Nûr al-Zalâm, written in 1329, published in Y. Tzvi Langermann, Yemenite Midrash: Philosophical Commentaries on the Torah, pp. 216-217.)"

He also links there to a NY Times article about a similar naturally occurring phenomenon: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/dining/09manna.html?_r=1&ref=dining

Also, to Ibn Ezra who rejects someone (possibly a Karaite) who suggests that it is natural: http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/olam_hatanah/mefaresh.asp?book=2&perek=16&mefaresh=ezra ירקב שם חוי שאמר: כי המן הוא הנקרא בלשון פרסי תרנגבי"ן ובלשון ערבי מ"ן ובלשון לע"ז מנ"א. כי קושיות רבות עמדו עליו. האחת כי איננו יורד היום במדבר סיני כי ההר ידוע ואני ראיתי זה הדומה למן במלכות אלצכי"ר. והוא יורד בניסן ובאייר ולא בחדשים אחרים. ועוד: אם תשימהו לשמש לא ימס. ועוד: כי בלילה לא יבאש. ועוד: כי איננו חזק ואין צורך שידוכנו אדם במדוכה, שיעשה ממנו עוגות. ועוד: כאשר יושם בלשון יומס. ועוד: כי איננו משביע שיוליד דם טוב, רק הוא נכנס ברפואות. ועוד: כי ביום השישי היה יורד משנה. ועוד: כי לא היה יורד בשבת. ועוד: כי ירד לכל מקום שיחנו. ועוד: כי עבר עימהם את הירדן, ולא שבת עד חצי ניסן על דרך הפשט.

Note that Ibn Ezra says ירקב שם חוי, may the name of Chivi rot. This would appear to be a reference to Chivi al Balchi. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiwi_al-Balkhi

where scholars think he was either a Jew or a Gnostic Christian.

If some Karaite said it, I assume Ibn Ezra would have known who said it and been able to name him. Rather he gives this Chivi character as saying it, as well as those who follow after him. (See here: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=39939&st=&pgnum=255 in this longer version of Ibn Ezra, where he refers to Chivi haPoshe vechol hazonin acharav). Perhaps Malbim was aware that this was actually a Karaite, or else falsely inferred that the fellow was a Karaite because Ibn Ezra opposed him, and Ibn Ezra often opposed Karaites.

I've looked at a Karaite peirush myself (namely, Aharon ben Yosef) and don't see any mention or endorsement of this idea.

By the way, here is the Malbim on the Torah. http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=40081&st=&pgnum=236 Can you locate the page where he makes this comment?

kol tuv,



I don't know if this is exactly the same type of plant that the Malbim is talking about, because he seems to be referring to a medicinal plant, but in The Bible As History by Werner Keller, he identifies mann as being the plant known as Tamarix Manifera Ehr. According to him, this is some kind of sweet-tasting sap-like substance that falls or appears in the early morning in the Sinai Peninsula. Wikipedia also writes that the Tamarisk is one of the opinions on the identity of the mann.

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