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Exodus BeShalach
  Ki Tisa
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16:15 The Israelites looked at it, and had no idea what it was. 'What is it?' they asked one another.
Vayir'u veney Yisra'el vayomeru ish el-achiv man hu ki lo yad'u mah-hu vayomer Moshe alehem hu halechem asher natan Adonay lachem le'ochlah.
16:16 God's instructions are that each man shall take as much as he needs. There shall be an omer for each person, according to the number of people each man has in his tent.'
Zeh hadavar asher tsivah Adonay liktu mimenu ish lefi ochlo omer lagulgolet mispar nafshoteychem ish la'asher be'aholo tikachu.


What is it
  Man hu in Hebrew, which can also be translated, 'it is man,' or 'it is manna' (see Exodus 16:31). The word man here is taken to be a form of mah meaning what (Targum; Mekhilta; Ibn Janach s.v. Min; Josephus 3:1:6). Some say that it is an Egyptian expression (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Lekach Tov). Actually, in ancient Egyptian, 'what is this' would be ma nu, which would sound like man hu.

According to others the word man here means food (Rashi; Saadia; Ibn Ezra; Ibn Janach; cf. Sukkah 39b), possibly from the Egyptian (Sekhel Tov). The verse would then be translated, 'They did not know what it was, but when Moses said.... they said, 'It is food!' ' Others say that man is a gift, from the root manah (Radak, Sherashim).

In ancient Egyptian, the word man can mean a gift, something coming from the sky, or something coming every day. Significantly mem or man also denotes coriander (see Exodus 16:31).

  A measure equal to around 2 quarts.

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