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(Read April 22, 1922.) 

The Biblical manna, which the ancestors of the Jews are said to 
have eaten for forty years until they came to the borders of Canaan, 
is not the manna of commerce, which is a saccharine exudation 
obtained in Sicilian plantations, during July and August, by making 
transverse incisions through the bark of flowering-ash trees (Fraxinus 
ornus). This is employed as a gentle laxative for children and is 
still largely consumed in South America. The Jews' manna is gen- 
erally supposed to be the honey-like exudation of a species of tamarisk 
on the Sinaitic peninsula. The flow of manna from the soft twigs of 
the tamarix Gdlica, which is due to their being punctured by a scale 
insect, appears only during certain months (about the end of May 
and in June) . It could not have yielded the daily provision of more 
than 300 tons ;^ the annual quantity produced on the Sinaitic peninsula 
is only 500 or 600 lbs. Nor could it have been ground in querns, or 
pounded in mortars, and baked^ in baking-pots.' It has the con- 
sistency of wax in the early morning, but melts in the heat of the sun 
(Exod. 16, 21). This Sinaitic manna is still collected by the Arabs 
and sold to the monks of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai, who supply 
it to the, pilgrims and tourists visiting the convent. 

1 showed in my paper The Burning Bush and the Origin of 

Judaism, which I presented at our General Meeting in 1909, that the 

mountain whence the Law is said to have been given to Moses can 

not have been situated on the Sinaitic peninsula ; it must have been a 

^They are said to have collected an omer per day per person (Exod. 16, 
16. 36). An omer is nearly a gallon (more accurately, 3.644 liters). Accord- 
ing to Exod. 12, 37 {cf. 38, 26; Num. 1, 46; 26, 51) there were more than 600,- 
000 men not including Levites, women and children ; so there would have been 
more than two million people. These numbers are, of course, impossible ; see 
Gray, Numbers (ICC) p. 12; contrast EB" 25, 139 ^ below. 

2 For. Heb. bissel, to bake, cf. 2 S 13, 18; AJSL 26, 16; ZDMG 63, 517. 

3 See the cut on p. 64 of the translation of Leviticus in the Polychrome 
Bible; cf. MLN 38, 433; also ZDMG 61, 714, 1. 10; JBL 36, 256. 



volcano in northwestern Arabia (PAPS 48, 355).* The name Sinai 
is derived from the Assyrian name of the moon-god, Sin. About 
four days' journey S.E. of Tebuk in northwestern Arabia there is an 
isolated table-mountain of sandstone with a high, pitch-black extinct 
volcano on its flattened summit, which is called al-Badr, i.e. the 
Arabic word for full moon. At the foot of the northern side of this 
sacred mountain (which was visited, on July 2, 1910, by Professor 
Musil, of Vienna, who will lecture in this country next fall) there 
are twelve large blocks of sandstone, known as al-madabih = lleh. 
mizbehot, sacrificial altars. Similar blocks are found at the western 
end. On the southern side there are The Caves of the Servants of 
Moses, Arab. Maga'ir 'abid Musa. The ancestors of the Jews seem 
to have proceeded from Elath, at the northeastern end of the Red Sea, 
in a southeastern direction (JAOS 34, 526; 35, 387.390). 

Forty years ago the distinguished mythologist W. H. Roscher 
published a monograph^ advancing the theory that nectar and am- 
brosia were kinds of honey like the Biblical manna. We call the 
saccharine fluid excreted by flowers, which attracts insects or birds, 
nectar, and we apply the name ambrosia to the food of certain wood- 
boring beetles, which consists of certain minute hyphomycetous fungi 
coating the walls of their galleries. In the Homeric poems (in which 
eighth-century lonians describe twelfth-century events; cf. EB" 8, 
426'') nectar is the drink, and ambrosia the food of the gods; but in 
the Doric fragments of Alcman (the greatest lyric poet of Sparta, 

♦ Note the following abbreviations : — AJ 51.= American Journal of Semitic 
Languages; — ^AV=;Authorized Version ; — BA^Delitzsch and Haupt, B'ei- 
trage zur Assyriologie ; — ^BL=Haupt, Bihlische Liebeslieder (Leipsic, 1907) ; 
— CD=Century Dictionary ; — ^EB=Cheyne-BIack, Encyclopcedia Biblica; — 
'E&^^=.Encyclopa:dia Britannica, il'h edition; — Est^Haupt, The Book of 
Esther (Chicago, 1908) ; — GB=Gesenius-Buhl, Hebrdtsches Handwdrterbuch; 
— GK^Gesenius-Kautzsch, Hebraische Grammatik; — ICC=International Crit- 
ical Commentary; — 'iKOS^ ournal of the American Oriental Society; — ^JBL 
=:fournal of Biblical Literature ; — ^JHUC=/o/t».s Hopkins University Circu- 
lar; — MLN=;Afo<f^r« Language Notes; — OXi=Ne'w English Dictionary, Ox- 
ford; — 0T=01d Testament; — 'PAPS^=Proceedings of the American Philo- 
sophical Society; — RV=:Revised Version; — S^Samuel; SEP=:Saturday 
Evening Post; — VS=BrockeImann, Vergleichende Grammatik der semitischen 
Sprachen, vol'. 2 (Berlin, 1913) ; — Z'D'M.G=^Zeitschrift der Deutschen Mor- 
genldndischen Gesellschaft. 

° W. H. Roscher, Nektar und Ambrosia, Leipsic, 1883. 


about 650) nectar is the food, and in Sappho (who flourished about 
600, and who shared with Alcseus the supremacy of the ^olian school 
of lyric poetry) ambrosia is the drink. 

It would seem, however, that both nectar and ambrosia denote 
fragrant fat, especially the nidorous smell of the sacrifices ascending 
to heaven. The fragrant steam arising from a burning sacrifice was 
the nourishment of the gods. Ethereal beings feed on vapors, not on 
solid meats.* The Old Testament says that an offering made by fire 
yields a sweet savor to Jhvh. For Let the Lord accept an offering 
(i S 26, 19) the Hebrew has Let the Lord smell (or inhale) an 
offering. In Lev. 26, 31 Jhvh says: / will not smell the savor of 
your sweet odors. When Noah after the Flood offered burnt-offer- 
ings, the Lord smelted the sweet savor, and the cuneiform account of 
the Deluge states that when the- Babylonian Noah offered a sacrifice, 
the gods gathered around him like a swarm of flies, so that the god- 
dess Istar took the great fly-brushes of her father Anu, the god of 
heaven, to drive them away. Fly-brushes are the ancient Oriental 
symbols of sovereignty. The gods were starved because there had 
been no offerings during the Flood (JAOS 41, 181). 

The Hebrew term for the fragrant smoke of the burnt-offering is 
qetori, and nectar seems to be derived from the same Semitic stem, 
just as it has been suggested that ambrosia may represent the Semitic 
'ambar, ambergris (EB" i, 800"; AJSL 23, 261; PAPS 46, 158). 
Ambergris is a morbid secretion of the intestines of the sperm-whale. 
It is a fatty, inflammable substance which develops a peculiar sweet 
odor on exposure to the air. It plays an important part in Oriental 
perfumery and is used also in pharmacy and in cookery. I have 
shown in my paper on Jonah's Whale, which I presented at our Gen- 
eral Meeting in 1907, that there were sperm-whales in the Mediter- 
ranean (PAPS 46, 155; JHUC 296, 37.43). Gr. thyos and thyoma 
are equivalent to Heb. qetorj, and both are connected with our fume, 
as is also thysia, and tethyomenos means fragrant. Similarly Heb. 
mequttdr signifies perfumed in Cant. 3, 6. AV uses perfume for 
qetort (JBL 36, 91, n. 11) in Exod. 30, 35. 

» See the translation of Leviticus, in the Polychrome Bible, p. 62, 1. 2 ; p. 
63, 1- 15- 


The Arabic equivalent of the stem of Heb. qetdri means to exhale 
an odor in roasting. If you return to camp in the evening after 
having been out gunning all day, the smell of frying bacon is a sweet 
savor. The Hebrews sacrificed to Jhvh the fat of the victim. 
Lev. 3, i6 states : All the fat is the Lord's (cf. Lev. 7, 25 ; i S 2, i6; 
2 Chr. 7, 7; Gen. 4, 4). The fat pieces burnt on the altar were, 
according to Lev. 3, 3.4, the fat that covers the entrails, i.e. the great 
omentum, and the fat that is about the entrails, i.e. the mesenterial 
fat,, the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, and the caudate lobe 
of the liver. The priests said the fat was the best and richest part 
of the animal.' Liver and kidneys and the surrounding fat were re- 
garded as important seats of life and emotion. We find in the 
Hebrew psalms : my liver exulted for / was glad and my reins ad- 
monished me at night for Thou art never out of my thoughts ( JAOS 
32, 124; JHUC325, 39). 

The practice of offering the fat pieces appears in a new light if 
we compare a story of Prometheus in Hesiod's Theogony (c. 735 
B.C.) in which the Bceotian poet describes the origin of the world and 
the birth of the gods. Socrates, who drank the cup of hemlock in 
399. regarded the stories of the gods as the inventions of lying poets 
(EB" 25, 333*). According to Hesiod (Theog. 536), gods and men 
met on a certain occasion at Mecone, which is the ancient name of 
Sicyon, near the Gulf of Corinth, 10 m. N.W. of Corinth. The 
business of the assembly was to decide what portions of the slain 
animals the gods should receive in sacrifice. On one side Prometheus 
arranged the best parts of the ox, covered with offal ; on the other, 
the bones covered with fat, as the meat was covered in Homeric sacri- 
fices. Zeus was invited to make his choice, chose the fat, and found 
only bones beneath. Similar fables recur in Africa and North 
America (EB" 22, 436*). 

If nectar, which is connected with Heb. qetort, fragrant steam of 
the burnt-offering inhaled by Jhvh, appears in the Homeric poems 
as the drink of the gods, we must remember that the Arabic term for 
to smoke tobacco is to drink smoke, Arab, sdriba-'d-duxdna. The 
same term was formerly used in English. Ben Jonson (1598) says: 

■^ See the translation of Leviticus, in the Polychrome Bible, p. 65, 11. 33-38. 


The most divine tobacco that I ever drunk. In the Oriental tobacco- 
pipe known as narghileh (Arab, nargilah or arkilah) the smoke 
passes through water before it is inhaled through a long flexible tube. 
The receptacle for the water, which is often scented, was originally 
a cocoanut shell. In Persian the cocoanut is called nargil. In India 
a similar pipe is known as hubble-bubble (or hobble-bobble) . Other 
names of this water-pipe for smoking are hookah (Arab, huqqah) 
and kalian (Pers. qalian).^ In Egypt it is called sisah or gduzah. 
The Arabic name for cocoanut is goz Hindi. The Arabic word for 
to drink appears in our sherbet and syrup. Some men in Waukegan, 
111., smoke their hootch now by taking a liberal pinch of snuff, soak-, 
ing it in moonshine until it is thoroughly saturated, then cramming it 
into a pipe, and pressing a little loose tobacco on top (The Baltimore 
News, April 27, 1922, p. 16, col. 6). 

In a poem The Cigarette, by Joseph Mills Hanson (published in 
The American Legion Weekly, April 28, 1922, p. 4, col. 2), we find 
the stanza : 

But how I longed to smoke — and not a snipe ! » 

When comes this long-legg'd bird that saved my tripe i" 

Back in the boyau ^^ — volunteer, may be. 

Or one of our supports — and handed me 

A Lucky! 12 Boy, just listen while I state 

I'm here to tell' the world this one thing straight, 

No Mount Olympus god could ever quaff 

A cup of nectar sweet as that, by half! 

I am indebted for this reference to Dr. O. R. Sellers, of the Johns 
Hopkins University. 

In Homer, ambrosia is used as a perfume: in the Odyssey (4, 445) 

we read that when Menelaus wanted to consult the old man of the 

sea, Proteus, who knew all things, past, present, and future, and who 

took siesta, surrounded by his seals, in an ocean-cave near the mouth 

of the Nile, the daughter of the god covered the hero and three of 

his companions with hides of seals, and in order to make the odor of 

the hides less intolerable, she put ambrosia under their noses. The 

ancients had no scents dissolved in alcohol, but perfumed greases, 

* See cuts in CD 2878 ». 2908 *; cf. EB" 13,670*'; 19,240*. 

^ Stub of a cigar or cigarette. J-" Cf. to save one's bacon. 

1^ Passage between two trenches. ^^ A Lucky Strike cigarette. 

PROG. AMER. PHIL. SOC, VOL. I XI, Q, NOV. 20, I922. 


solid or liquid fats charged with odors. PHny's statement (13, 2) 
that scented unguents were unknown at the time of the Trojan war 
is incorrect. Fats and oils absorb odors. Perfumes are extracted 
from flowers by the agency of inodorous fats (enfleurage) . One of 
the most precious unguents was the nard-ointment, and according to 
Pliny (12, 43) nard-oil had a red color (color rufus). Also the 
color of myrrh, which was used as a perfume (Ps. 45, 8; Prov. 7, 17; 
Cant. I, 13; 5, 5) and as an antiseptic for embalming (John 19, 39), 
varies from pale reddish-yellow to red or reddish-brown. Achilles's 
mother, Thetis (JHUC 306, 34) injected ambrosia and red nectar 
(Gr. nektar erythron) through the nostrils of his slain friend Pa- 
troclus to preserve his body (//. 19, 40). According to Herodotus 
(2, 86) the Egyptian embalmers removed the brains through the 
nostrils by means of a bent iron implement, injecting drugs, while 
the intestines were drawn out through an incision in the left side, 
whereupon the abdominal cavity was cleansed with date-brandy 
(JHUC 287, 33) and filled with myrrh, cassia, and other materials, 
and the opening sewed up ; finally the body was steeped for 70 days 
in a solution of natron, i.e. native carbonate of sodium, which is 
found in some of the lakes of Egypt. On the other hand, the body 
of Alexander the Great is said to have been embalmed with honey 

At the command of Zeus, Apollo bathed the body of the Lycian 
prince Sarpedon, who had been slain by Patroclus, in a river and 
anointed it with ambrosia (//. 16, 670.680). Hera cleansed (Gr. 
kdtheren) herself with ambrosia and anointed herself with fragrant 
ambrosian oil (//. 14, 170; cf. Judith 16, 8). This was no soap, as 
has been suggested, but a scented massage cream. Massage, which 
is the oldest of all therapeutic means, is alluded to in Homer : in the 
Odyssey heroes returning from battle are rubbed and kneaded by 
female massers. Massage is derived from Arab, mdssada (cf. Syr. 
niesdsd, touching, groping; Heb. masds, to grope; Ass. masasu and 
pasdsu, to rub; JBL 39, 159). In Est. 2, 12 massage is called 
tamruqim, rubs : the oil of myrrh had an antiseptic effect and purified 
the skin ; the balms or sweet odors perfumed the body ; the rubs made 
the skin white and soft, and improved the figure (Est 22). Slmmpoo 


is the Hindoo term for this manipulation ; Hindustani champo is the 
imperative of champna, to thrust, to press (EB" 17, 863''). Some 
of our modern massage creams are said to cleanse all dust and dirt 
from the pores ; after they have been rubbed in gently they roll out, 
bringing with them all the dirt and skin impurities, so that the skin 
appears clean and healthy with a clear and glowing color, while the 
cream that comes from the pores appears darkened and dirt-laden 
(SEP, April 15, 1922, p. 93). According to Pliny (28, 191) soap 
was an invention of the Gauls, who prepared it from tallow and 
ashes. The ancients cleansed themselves by oiling their bodies and 
scraping (Gr. stlengizein) their skins, and by baths (EB 4665). 
Cowper (1791) says: Her lovely face \ She with ambrosia purified. 
Ambrosia is supposed to be connected with Skt. amrta, which 
denotes the beverage of immortality that resulted from the churning 
of the ocean by the gods and demons (CD s. amrita). The view 
that Gr. ambrosios means immortal is untenable. Nor can Gr. nektar 
be combined with Gr. nogala, dainties. The ancients regarded nektar 
as a compound of the negative ne and ker, the goddess of death, or 
kteinein, to kill. Our post-Volsteadian nectars may not always kill, 
but they certainly do not impart immortality." Homer applies the 
epithet ambrosial, not only to divine food and anointing oil, but also 
to raiment, sandals, locks. A sexagenarian knows that hair is not 
immortal, and if he raised a number of boys he will remember that 
shoes have no everlasting soles. Ambrosial curls denotes fragrant 
hair}* Milton says {Par. L. 5, 57) : His deivy locks distilled am- 
brosia. In Swift (Streph. and CMoe) we find : Venus like her 
fragrant skin \ Exhaled ambrosia from within. The Scottish poet. 
Sir William Mure (1594-1657) has {Dido and ^neas i, 461) : Her 
sweet ambrosial breath and nectared hair. Our poets also speak of 
nectarine kisses or a touch of her sweet nectar-breathing mouth." 

13 Littre says j. nectar : Ce qui ne tue pas does not signify ce qui donne 

1* Cf. Fr. chevelure ambroisienne, Ger. amhrosisches Hoar. We find also 
ambrosische Nacht. 

1' German poets speak of Nektorlippen and Nektarkusse. Schiller says : 
Nektarduft von Madchenlippen; Wieland : der Anhauch ihres Nektartnundes; 
Ruckert calls the lips Nektarkelch. We also find nektarne Brust (cf. BL 70. 
72). Tennyson {The Miller's Daughter) says: / would be the necklace — . . . 
upon her balmy bosom. 


The night is often called ambrosial; this does not mean holy, as is 
generally supposed, but balmy. Thomas Moore (Laila Rookh 248) 
speaks of One of those ambrosial eves \ A day of storm so often 
leaves. Tennyson {In Memoriam, Ixxxvi) says: Sweet after show- 
ers, ambrosial air and (CEnone) : A fruit of pure Hesperian gold \ 
That smelled ambrosially (see OD s. ambrosial). Also ambrosial 
sleep means balmy sleep, i.e. healing, refreshing sleep. Edith M. 
Hull says in the first chapter of The Sheik: It was a wonderful night, 
silent except for the cicada's monotonous chirping, mysterious with 
the inexplicable mystery that hangs always in the Oriental night. 
The smells of the East rose up all around her ; here, as at home, they 
seemed more perceptible by night than by day. Often at home she 
had stood on the little stone balcony outside her room, drinking in the 
smells of the night — the pungent, earthy smell after rain, the aromatic 
smell of pine trees near the house. It was the intoxicating smells of 
the night that had first driven her, as a very small child, to clamber 
down from her balcony, clinging to the thick ivy roots, to wander 
with the delightful sense of wrongdoing through the moonlit park 
and even into the adjoining gloomy woods. She had always been 
utterly fearless. 

There is no connection between the Gr. nectar and ambrosia and 
the Biblical munna. The manna, which sustained the ancestors of 
the Jews in the wilderness, was a nutritive lichen like the Iceland 
moss and the reindeer moss, especially the Lecanora esculenta, known 
as manna-lichen,'^^ which in times of great drought and famine has 
served as food for a large number of men in the arid steppes of the 
various countries stretching from Algeria to Tatary (EB^^ 16, 584). 
Fragments of manna-lichen carried away by the wind resemble grains 
of wheat. They vary in size from a pea to a hazel-nut.^' The edible 
lichens contain not only starchy substances, but also in some cases a 
small quantity of saccharine matter of the nature of mannite. It is 

I'Littre says s. manna: // est certain qu'elle est formSe de lichens, sur- 
tout de lecanora affinis et lecanora esculenta. 

1^ According to Num. 11, 7 the manna was like coriander seed. The 
smooth globular fruits of coriander sativum are twice as large as hemp seed 
or about the size of a peppercorn. The Hebrew word in Exod. 16, 14, ren- 
dered round in AV means flaky; see RV, margin ; cf. EB 879, n. 4. 


more probable, however, that the powdered manna-lichen was mixed 
with tamarisk-manna and alhagi-manna (Arab, taranjabir). The 
manna-lichen was ground in querns or pounded in mortars (Num. 
II, 8) and mixed with the honey-like drops exuding from the soft 
twigs of the tamarix Gallica or with the exudation of the camel's 
thorn (alhagi Maurorum or camelorum). After this mixture of 
powdered manna-lichen and tamarisk-manna or alhagi-manna had 
been baked in baking-pots, it tasted like honey-cake (Exod. i6, 31) 
or like pastry baked in sweet-oil (Num. 11, 8). 

The real meaning of the name manna has never been explained. 
Arab, mann means not only manna, but also gift, present, favor, 
benefit; it denotes also the manna-insect which causes the secretion 
of the manna by puncturing the twigs of the tamarisk {i.e. the 
Coccus manniparus or Gossyparia mannifera). The presence of 
these insects may be responsible for the legend that when some of 
the manna was left until the following day, it became wormy and 
offensive except on the sabbath (Exod. 16, 20.24). The accounts 
given in Exod. 16, 14-36; Num. 11, 7-9 are inaccurate and em- 
broidered. The primary connotation of Heb. man, manna, is not 
gift,, but separation, elimination, secretion. It is connected with the 
preposition min, from, which means originally part (VS 397; GB^^ 
435*, 4; GK^', § 119, w, note i). To part may mean to partition, 
apportion. Arab, maniiah, fate, signifies properly portion (Heb. 
mendt, helq). This is also the primary connotation of Arab, mann 
and minhah, gift, present. AV uses to part for Heb. hiprid in Ruth 
1,17, where Ruth says to Naomi : The Lord do so unto me and more 
also if aught but death part thee and me. Here Luther has : Der 
Tod muss mich und dich scheiden, and Ausscheidung is the German 
term for secretion. Arab, mana, iaminu, to plow, is to break the 
ground. The original meaning of Heb. wjm, species, is division. 
Lat. species means not only particular sort, but also look, form (Heb. 
temiina; cf. BA i, 124). The post-Biblical min, heretic, signifies 
properly separatist. Brugsch and Ebers combined Heb. man with 
the late Egyptian mnu; if this denote manna, it is no doubt a loan- 
word, so that it throws no light on the etymology. 

In Exod. 16, 15 the name manna is derived from mdn-hu: when 
the ancestors of the Jews saw it, they said to one another: mdn-hu. 


what is this ? for they did not know what it was. Man-hu, however, 
is Aramaic, not Hebrew. The Syriac Bible has mandu = mdna-hu 
in Exod. i6, 15. In Syriac we find man or mon, and mana, what, 
but the Hebrew pronoun for what? is ma. The popular etymology 
given in Exod. 16, 15 must be a late gloss. AV has What is this? 
in the margin, also It is a portion. In the text AV renders : It is 
manna. RV has in the text What is this? and It is manna in the 

Tamarisk-manna is alluded to by Herodotus (7, 31). He says in 
his account of Xerxes's march to Sardes during his expedition against 
Greece (about 481) that the Callatebian craftsmen prepared honey 
from tamarisks and from wheat (Gr. dndres demioergol m^li ek 
myrikes te kal pyrou poieusi). In the OT the term honey denotes 
also various inspissated fruit-juices or syrups, especially grape-syrup 
(Gr. hepsema, siraion, Arab. dibs). Callatebus was a town in Lydia 
S.W. of Sardes, probably near the Lydian Philadelphia, the present 
Alashehr, 83 m. E. of Smyrna. This Philadelphia was called Little 
Athens on account of its festivals and temples. It was captured in 
1402 by Timur (or Tamerlane) who built a wall of the corpses of 
his prisoners. The tamarisk-honey is tamarisk-manna, and the honey 
prepared from wheat may have been glucose made from wheaten 
starch (Plin. 18, 76) by the action of dilute sulphuric acid. This 
acid, which is perhaps the most important of all chemicals, was, it 
may be supposed, known to the ancients (cf. Plin. 35, 175), while 
hydrochloric acid was first obtained about the end of the Thirty 
Years' War (1648). Sulphuric acid is found uncombined in natural 
waters of certain volcanic districts. The Lydian Philadelphia was 
subject to frequent earthquakes. The Mseander valley and the Gulf 
of Smyrna are notorious seismic foci (EB^^ 2, 757*). The Mseander 
valley is noted for its hot springs. The Lydians were credited with 
several inventions, e.g. dice and coined money. They were also cele- 
brated for their music and gymnastic exercises. The Lydian empire 
was the industrial power of the ancient world.