Saturday, February 11, 2017

Manna and Challah

Moreover, in the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp.  When the layer of dew was gone, on the surface of the desert was a thin, flake-like frost, as fine as the frost on the ground.  When Bnei-Yisrael saw it, they said one to another, "What is it?"  For they did not know what it was.  Then Moses said to them, "It is the bread that ADONAI has given you to eat."

---Exodus 16:13b~15  TLV
For a person who blogs about Shabbat and Challah, this weeks parsha contains some pretty exciting stuff!! That `stuff` is manna.

Manna is the bread that fell from heaven for the Children of Israel (Bnei Israel) to eat during all the years in the wilderness after ADONAI delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians and brought them out of bondage through the Red Sea.

The manna itself was not like `solid` bread that you see in my photos of challah!
It was something more like flakes.  I imagine it like snow.  It is described as a thin dew-like frost forming a layer when it settled on the ground.

The word in Hebrew for manna, which is `man` actually means `What is it?` because when Bnei-Israel saw it, they said to one another "What is it?".

Moses replied that "It is the bread that ADONAI has given you to eat."  In  Exodus 16:16 he describes about how it is to be gathered,  an omer for each person.  After gathering it, they were to take it into their tents and prepare it or bake it and it or boil it for those in their tent.  It would be just the amount needed for one day.  No more, no less.  They were not to save any over, or else...!!

You can read in the scripture about what would happen if they took more than was needed!!

For this post, the thing about the manna I wanted to talk about is how the Challah we make on Shabbat is a way of remembering this first `bread` that ADONAI sent from Heaven to sustain His people. 

On the sixth day they were given a double portion of manna, so there would be enough for the next day of rest on Shabbat.   Today, many people bake two loaves of challah for Shabbat to commemorate the double  portion of manna that fell for Shabbat !

Not only did God lovingly feed the Children of Israel in all the years in the wilderness, but the manna was also a way to teach them---and to teach us all these generations later---about the commandment of Shabbat and about trusting God as Provider.  And as a test, `to find out whether they will walk according to My Torah or not. So on the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather day  by day."----Exodus 16:4A~5 

The challah cover represents the layer of dew that covered the manna
Another custom  that commemorates the manna is the use of a challah cover.  There are a few reasons for the challah cover, besides just the beauty of making a special cloth.   One reason is to cover the challah during the first blessings and the blessing over the wine, while it is `waiting` for the special blessing of the bread.
Another reason is its symbolic meaning.  The board under the challah represents the ground on which the manna fell, then the double portion of bread is to represent the manna, and then the challah cover is the layer of dew that `covered` the manna.  It becomes a special way of remembering and re-creating the experience of the manna.  It gives the bread we make on Shabbat a special connection to this Bread of Life that was given in the Exodus from Egypt.

As Messianic Believers in Yeshua, we also remember our Salvation and freedom in Yeshua,  as Yeshua himself is the Bread of Life.  As He is also our Sabbath rest, the double meaning of the manna takes on new life.

"Amen, amen I tell you, he who believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died.  This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat and not die.   I am the living bread, which came down from heaven.  If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever.  This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

---Yeshua`s words from John 6:47~51

 The Shabbat table is an expression of thanks for God`s provision from generation to generation and on this very day.  On Shabbat we remember that He brought our ancestors out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.   We remember the double portion and the commandment to keep this day holy, and to trust in our Provider.  We give thanks for Salvation in Yeshua, the ultimate provision and sacrifice who gives Salvation and eternal life to anyone who calls on His name.  Amen and amen. 

Behold, God is my salvation!
I will trust and will not be afraid.
For the Lord ADONAI is my strength 
and my song.
He also has become my salvation.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 
In that day you will say:
Give thanks to ADONAI.
Proclaim His Name!
Declare His works to the peoples,
so they remember His exalted Name.
Sing to ADONAI, for He has done gloriously.
Let this be known in all the earth.
Cry out and shout, inhabitant of Zion!
For great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel."
---Isaiah 12: 2~6

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