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Manna (Hebrew: מָ‏ן‎) or Manna wa Salwa (Arabic: ‎, Persian: , Urdu: ), sometimes or archaically spelled mana, is the name of a food which, according to the Bible, was eaten by the Israelites during their travels in the desert. It was said to be sweet to the taste.

Contents

Description

Biblical description

Manna is described as being comparable to Hoarfrost in size. Hoarfrost on grass lawn.
According to the book of Exodus, manna is white, like Coriander seed.

In the description in the Book of Exodus, manna is described as being available six mornings a week, after the dew had evaporated.[1] It is described in the Book of Numbers as arriving with the dew during the night;[2] Exodus adds that manna was comparable to hoarfrost in size,[1] similarly had to be collected before it was melted by the heat of the sun,[3] and was white like coriander seed in color.[4] Numbers describes it as having the appearance of bdellium,[5] adding that the Israelites ground it up and pounded it into cakes, which were then baked, resulting in something that tasted like cakes baked with oil.[6] Exodus states that raw manna tasted like wafers that had been made with honey.[4] The Israelites were instructed to eat only the manna they had gathered for each day. Leftovers or manna stored up for the following day "bred worms and stank":[7] the exception being the day before Shabbat (Preparation Day), when twice the amount of manna was gathered, which did not spoil overnight.

Potential discrepancies

Some form critics posit conflicting descriptions of manna as derived from different lore, with the description in Numbers being from the Yahwist tradition, and the description in Exodus being from the later Priestly tradition.[8][9] The Babylonian Talmud states that the differences in description were due to the taste varying depending on who ate it, with it tasting like honey for small children, like bread for youths, and like oil for the elderly.[10] Similarly, classical rabbinical literature rectifies the question of whether manna came before or after dew, by holding that the manna was sandwiched between two layers of dew, one falling before the manna, and the other after.[11]

Quranic description

Manna is also briefly mentioned in the Qur'an, with the Al-Baqara, Al-A'raf, and Ta-Ha mentioning the divine supply of manna as one of the miracles with which the Israelites were favored; these passages only describe manna as being "good things" which have been "provided ... as sustenance."[12]

Identifying manna

A tamarisk tree in the Levant desert.

Some scholars have proposed that manna is cognate with the Egyptian term mennu, meaning "food".[13] At the turn of the twentieth century, Arabs of the Sinai Peninsula were selling resin from the tamarisk tree as man es-simma, roughly meaning "heavenly manna".[11] Tamarisk trees (particularly Tamarix gallica) were once comparatively extensive throughout the southern Sinai, and their resin is similar to wax, melts in the sun, is sweet and aromatic (like honey), and has a dirty-yellow color, fitting somewhat with the Biblical descriptions of manna.[14][15] However, this resin is mostly composed from sugar, so it would be unlikely to provide sufficient nutrition for a population to survive over long periods of time,[14] and it would be very difficult for it to have been compacted to become cakes.[15]

Black ant with a clear bubble of honeydew produced by a green aphid.
Scale insects covered in waxy secretions.

In the Biblical account, the name manna is said to derive from the question man hu, seemingly meaning "What is it?";[16] this is perhaps an Aramaic etymology, not a Hebrew one.[15] Man is possibly cognate with the Arabic term man, meaning plant lice, with man hu thus meaning "this is plant lice",[15] which fits one widespread modern identification of manna, the crystallized honeydew of certain scale insects.[15][17] In the environment of a desert, such honeydew rapidly dries due to evaporation of its water content, becoming a sticky solid, and later turning whitish, yellowish, or brownish;[15] honeydew of this form is considered a delicacy in the Middle East, and is a good source of carbohydrates.[17]

The other widespread identification is that manna is the thalli of certain lichens (particularly Lecanora esculenta);[14][17] this food source is often used as a substitute for maize in the Eurasian Steppe.[14] This material is light, often drifting in the wind, and has a yellow outer coat with a white inside, somewhat matching the Biblical description of manna; it does need additional drying, and is definitely not similar to honey in taste.[14]

A number of ethnomycologists such as R. Gordon Wasson, John Marco Allegro, and Terence McKenna, have suggested that most characteristics of manna are similar to that of Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, notorious breeding grounds for insects, which decompose rapidly. These peculiar fungi naturally produce a number of molecules that resemble human neurochemicals, and first appear as small fibres (mycelia) that resemble hoarfrost. This speculation (also paralleled in Philip K. Dick's posthumously published The Transmigration of Timothy Archer) is supported in a wider cultural context when compared with the praise of Haoma in the Rigveda, Mexican praise of teonanácatl, the peyote sacrament of the Native American Church, and the Holy Ayahuasca used in the ritual of the União do Vegetal and Santo Daime.[18] See: Biblical Entheogens

Other minority identifications of manna are that it was a kosher species of locust,[19] or that it was the sap of certain succulent plants (such as those of the genus Alhagi, which have an appetite-suppressing effect).[20]

Origin

Manna is from heaven, according to the Bible,[21] but the various identifications of manna are naturalistic. In the Mishnah, manna is treated as a supernatural substance, created during the twilight of the sixth day of Creation,[22] and ensured to be clean, before it arrives, by the sweeping of the ground by a northern wind and subsequent rains.[23] According to classical rabbinical literature, manna was ground in a heavenly mill for the use of the righteous, but some of it was allocated to the wicked and left for them to grind themselves.[11]

Use and function

Until they reached Canaan, the Israelites are implied by some passages in the Bible to have eaten only manna during their desert sojourn,[24] despite the availability of milk and meat from the livestock with which they traveled, and the references to provisions of fine flour, oil, and meat, in parts of the journey's narrative.[11]

As a natural food substance, manna would produce waste products; but in classical rabbinical literature, as a supernatural substance, it was held that manna produced no waste, resulting in no defecation among the Israelites until several decades later, when the manna had ceased to fall.[25] Modern medical science suggests the lack of defecation over such a long period of time would cause severe bowel problems, especially when other food later began to be consumed again. Classical rabbinical writers say that the Israelites complained about the lack of defecation, and were concerned about potential bowel problems.[25]

Many vegetarian Christians say that God had originally intended man would not eat meat because plants cannot move and killing them would not be sinful: manna, a nonmeat substance, is used to support this theory.[26] Further, when the people complained and wished for quail, God gave it to them, and those who ate it grew sick after.[27]

Food was not manna's only use; one classical rabbinical source states that the fragrant odor of manna was used in an Israelite perfume.[11]

Gathering

Exodus says each day one omer of manna was gathered per family member,[28] and may imply this was regardless of how much effort was put into gathering it;[29] a midrash attributed to Rabbi Tanhuma remarks that although some were diligent enough to go into the fields to gather manna, others just lay down lazily and caught it with their outstretched hands.[30] The Talmud states that this factor was used to solve disputes about the ownership of slaves, since the number of omers of manna each household could gather would indicate how many people were legitimately part of the household;[31] the omers of manna for stolen slaves could only be gathered by legitimate owners, and therefore legitimate owners would have spare omers of manna.[31]

According to the Talmud, manna was found near the homes of those with strong belief in Yahweh, and far from the homes of those with doubts;[31] indeed, one classical midrash says that manna was intangible to Gentiles, as it would inevitably slip from their hands.[32] The Midrash Tanhuma holds that manna melted, formed liquid streams, was drunk by animals, flavored the animal flesh, and was thus indirectly eaten by Gentiles, this being the only manner that Gentiles could taste manna.[33] Despite these hints of uneven distribution, classical rabbinical literature expresses the view that manna fell in very large quantities each day. It holds that manna was layered out over 2,000 cubits square, between 50 and 60 cubits in height, enough to nourish the Israelites for 2,000 years[11] and to be seen from the palaces of every king in the East and West,[34] probably a metaphorical statement.

Shabbat

According to Exodus, Shabbat (Sabbath) was instituted the first week the manna appeared.[35] It states that twice as much manna as usual was available on the sixth mornings of the week, and none at all could be found on the seventh days;[36] although manna usually rotted and became maggot-infested after a single night,[7] manna which had been collected on the sixth day remained fresh until the second night.[37] Moses stated that the double portion of Preparation Day was to be consumed on Shabbat;[35] and that Yahweh instructed him no one should leave his place on Shabbat,[38] so that the people could rest during it.[39]

Form critics regard this part of the manna narrative to be spliced together from the Yahwist and Priestly traditions, with the Yahwist tradition emphasizing rest during Shabbat, while the Priestly tradition merely states that Shabbat exists, implying that the meaning of "Shabbat" was already known.[15][40] These critics regard this part of the manna narrative as an etiological supernature story designed to explain the origin of Shabbat observance, which in reality was probably pre-Mosaic.[15]

Duration of supply

Exodus states that the Israelites consumed the manna for 40 years, starting from the fifteenth day of the second month (Iyar 15),[41] but that it then ceased to appear once they had reached a settled land, and once they had reached the borders of Canaan (inhabited by the Canaanites).[42] Form critics attribute this variation to the view that each expression of the manna ceasing derives from different lore; the "settled land" is attributed to the Priestly tradition,[15][40] and "Canaan's borders" to the Yahwist tradition, or to a hypothetical later redaction to synchronize the account with that of the Book of Joshua,[15][40] which states that the manna ceased to appear on the day after the annual Passover festival (Nisan 14), when the Israelites had reached Gilgal.[43] The duration from Iyar 15 to Nisan 14, taken literally, is 40 years less one month.

There is also a disagreement among classical rabbinical writers as to when the manna ceased, particularly in regard to whether it remained after the death of Moses for a further 40 days, 70 days, or 14 years;[44] indeed, according to Joshua ben Levi, the manna ceased to appear at the moment that Moses died.[11]

Pot

Despite the eventual termination of the supply of manna, Exodus states that a small amount of it survived within an omer-sized pot or jar, which was kept facing the Testimony (possibly, adjacent to the Ark of the Covenant);[45] it indicates that Yahweh instructed this of Moses, who delegated it to Aaron.[46] The Epistle to the Hebrews states that the pot was stored inside the Ark.[47] Classical rabbinical sources believe the pot was of gold; some say it was only there for the generation following Moses, and others that it survived at least until the time of Jeremiah.[11] However, the First Book of Kings states that it was absent earlier than Jeremiah, during Solomon's reign in the tenth century B.C.[48] Form critics attribute the mention of the pot to the Priestly tradition, concluding that the pot existed in the early sixth century B.C.[40]

Later cultural references

Manna Ash

By extension "manna" has been used to refer to any divine or spiritual nourishment.

For many years, Roman Catholics have annually collected a clear liquid from the tomb of Saint Nicholas;[49] legend attributes the pleasant perfume of this liquid as warding off evil, and it is sold to pilgrims as "the Manna of Saint Nicholas".[50] The liquid gradually seeps out of the tomb, but it is unclear whether it originates from the body within the tomb, or from the marble itself; since the town of Bari is a harbor, and the tomb is below sea level, there are several natural explanations for the manna fluid, including the transfer of seawater to the tomb by capillary action.[51]

In the seventeenth century, a woman marketed a clear, tasteless product as a cosmetic, "the Manna of Saint Nicholas of Bari". After the deaths of some 600 men, Italian authorities discovered that the alleged cosmetic was a preparation of arsenic, used by their wives.[52]

In a modern botanical context, manna is often used to refer to the secretions of various plants, especially of certain shrubs and trees, and in particular the sugars obtained by evaporating the sap of the Manna Ash, extracted by making small cuts in the bark.[53] The Manna Ash, native to southern Europe and southwest Asia, produces a blue-green sap, which has medicinal value as a mild laxative,[54] demulcent, and weak expectorant.[52]

German American author Kurt Vonnegut adapted the term "Manna From Heaven" to mean heavenly gifts from God in a general, philosophical sense. However, he was nowhere near the first to do so. He attributed Manna From Heaven as the "heavenly" actions of fate that operate to effect people.

The names of both the sugar mannose and its hydrogenated sugar alcohol, mannitol are derived from manna.[55]

Further reading

  • Arthur, James (2000). Mushrooms and Mankind: The Impact of Mushrooms on Human Consciousness and Religion. Escondido, CA: Book Tree. ISBN 1585091510. 
  • Heinrich, Clark (2002). Magic Mushrooms in Religion and Alchemy. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press. ISBN 0892819979. 
  • Merkur, Dan (2000). The Mystery of Manna: The Psychedelic Sacrament of the Bible. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press. ISBN 0892817720. 
  • McKenna, Terence (1993). Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge, A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution. New York, NY: Bantam Books. ISBN 0553371304. 

See also

  • Ayahuasca, entheogenic sacrament of União do Vegetal
  • Gaz (candy), a Manna nougat with chopped nuts from Isfahan, Iran
  • Fly agaric, Amanita muscaria, potential correlation with Christmas tradition
  • Peyote, entheogen and sacrament of Native American Church
  • Psilocybe, "Flesh of God", teonanácatl
  • Tuf Voyaging, a fictional account
  • White Manna

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Exodus 16:14
  2. ^ Numbers 11:9
  3. ^ Exodus 16:21
  4. ^ a b Exodus 16:31
  5. ^ Numbers 11:7
  6. ^ Numbers 11:8
  7. ^ a b Exodus 16:20
  8. ^ Peake's Commentary on the Bible
  9. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, "Book of Exodus", "Book of Numbers"
  10. ^ Yoma 75b
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Jewish Encyclopedia
  12. ^ Quran 2:27, 7, 20
  13. ^ George Ebers, Durch Gosen zum Sinai, p. 236
  14. ^ a b c d e Cheyne and Black, Encyclopedia Biblica
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Peake's commentary on the Bible
  16. ^ Exodus 16:15
  17. ^ a b c Manna Sinai
  18. ^ Terence McKenna, Food of the Gods, New York, Harper Collins, p. 84
  19. ^ Pancakes or Locusts
  20. ^ Alhagi mannifera
  21. ^ Psalm 78:24-25, 105:40, John 6:31
  22. ^ Pirkei Avot 5:9
  23. ^ Mekhilta, Beshalah, Wayassa, 3
  24. ^ Numbers 21:5
  25. ^ a b Sifre (on Numbers) 87-89
  26. ^ Soler, Jean, The Semiotics of Food in the Bible
  27. ^ Numbers 11:4-11:35
  28. ^ Exodus 16:16
  29. ^ Exodus 16:17-18
  30. ^ Tanhuma, Beshalah 22
  31. ^ a b c Yoma 75a
  32. ^ Midrash Abkir (on Exodus) 258
  33. ^ Midrash Tanhuma
  34. ^ Yoma 76a
  35. ^ a b Exodus 16:23
  36. ^ Exodus 16:5, 16:22, 16:26-27
  37. ^ Exodus 16:24
  38. ^ Exodus 16:27-29
  39. ^ Exodus 16:30
  40. ^ a b c d Jewish Encyclopedia, "Book of Exodus"
  41. ^ Exodus 16:1-4
  42. ^ Exodus 16:35
  43. ^ Joshua 5:10-12
  44. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, "Manna"
  45. ^ Exodus 16:34
  46. ^ Exodus 16:32-33
  47. ^ Hebrews 9:4
  48. ^ 1 Kings 8:9
  49. ^ Devotion and Use of the Manna of Saint Nicholas, St. Nicholas Center
  50. ^ Carroll, Rory, 2000-12-22, Bones of contention, The Guardian
  51. ^ Girling, Richard, 2004-12-12, Talking Point: Now do you believe in Santa Claus?, The Times
  52. ^ a b Manna, Time magazine, 1927-08-29
  53. ^ Rushforth, K., 1999, Trees of Britain and Europe, Collins, ISBN 0002200139
  54. ^ Grieve, Mrs. M., Ash, Manna
  55. ^ Cooley's Cyclopaedia of Practical Receipts, 6th ed. (1880)

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MANNA, a concrete saccharine exudation obtained by making incisions on the trunk of the flowering or manna ash tree, Fraxinus Ornus. The manna ash is a small tree found in Italy, and extending to Switzerland, South Tirol, Hungary, Greece, Turkey and Asia Minor. It also grows in the islands of Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia. It blossoms early in summer, producing numerous clusters of whitish flowers. At the present day the manna of commerce is collected exclusively in Sicily from cultivated trees, chiefly in the districts around Capaci, Carini, Cinisi and Favarota, small towns 20 to 25 m. W. of Palermo, and in the townships of Geraci, Castelbuono, and other places in the district of Cefalu, 50 to 70 m. E. of Palermo. In the frassinetti or plantations the trees are placed about 7 ft. apart, and after they are eight years old, and the trunk at least 3 in. in diameter, the collection of manna is begun. This operation is performed in July or August during the dry weather, by making transverse incisions i z to 2 in. long, and about I in. apart, through the bark, one cut being made each day, the first at the bottom of the tree, another directly above the first, and so on. In succeeding years the process is repeated on the untouched sides of the trunk, until the tree has been cut all round and exhausted. It is then cut down, and a young plant arising from the same root takes its place. The finest or flaky manna appears to have been allowed to harden on the stem. A very superior kind, obtained by allowing the juice to encrust pieces of wood or straws inserted in the cuts, is called manna a cannolo. The fragments adhering to the stem, after the finest flakes have been removed are scraped off, and form the small or Tolfa manna of commerce. That which flows from the lower incisions is often collected on tiles or on a concave piece of the prickly pear (Opuntia), but is less crystalline and more glutinous, and is less esteemed.

Manna of good quality dissolves at ordinary temperatures in about 6 parts of water, forming a clear liquid. Its chief constituent is mannite or manna sugar, a hexatomic alcohol, C6H8(OH)6, which likewise occurs, in much smaller quantity, in certain species of the brown seaweed, Fucus, and in plants of several widely separated natural orders. Mannite is obtained by extracting manna with alcohol and crystallizing the solution. The best manna contains 70 to 80%. It crystallizes in shining rhombic prisms from its aqueous solution and as delicate needles from alcohol. Manna possesses mildly laxative properties, and on account of its sweet taste is employed as a mild aperient for children. It is less used in England now than formerly, but is still largely consumed in South America. In Italy mannite is prepared for sale in the shape of small cones resembling loaf sugar in shape, and is frequently prescribed in medicine instead of manna.

The manna of the present day appears to have been unknown before the 15th century, although a mountain in Sicily with the Arabic name Gibelman, i.e. " manna mountain," appears to point to its collection there during the period that the island was held by the Saracens, 827-1070. In the 16th century it was collected in Calabria, and until recently was produced in the Tuscan Maremma, but none is now brought into commerce from Italy, although the name of Tolfa, a town near Civita. Vecchia, is still applied to an inferior variety of the drug.

Various other kinds of manna are known, but none of these has been found to contain mannite. Alhagi manna (Persian and Arabic tar-angubin, also known as terendschabin) is the produce of Alhagi maurorum, a small, spiny, leguminous plant, growing in Arabia, Asia Minor, Persia, Afghanistan, Baluchistan and northern India. This manna occurs in the form of small, roundish, hard, dry tears, varying from the size of a mustard seed to that of a coriander, of a lightbrown colour, sweet taste, and senna-like odour. The spines and pods of the plant are often mixed with it. It is collected near Kandahar and Herat, and imported into India from Cabul and Kandahar. Tamarisk manna (Persian gaz-angubin, tamarisk honey) exudes in June and July from the slender branches of Tamarix gallica, var. mannifera, in the form of honey-like drops, which, in the cold temperature of the early morning, are found in the solid state. This secretion is caused by the puncture of an insect, Coccus manniparus. In the valleys of the peninsula of Sinai, especially in the Wady elSheikh, this manna (Arabic man) is collected by the Arabs and sold to the monks of St Catherine, who supply it to the pilgrims visiting the convent. It is found also in Persia and the Punjab, but does not appear to be collected in any quantity. This kind of manna seems to be alluded to by Herodotus (vii. 31). Under the same name of gaz-angubin there are sold commonly in the Persian bazaars round cakes, of which a chief ingredient is a manna obtained to the south-west of Ispahan, in the month of August, by shaking the branches or scraping the stems of Astragalus florulentus and A. adscendens.' Shir Khist, a manna known to writers on materia medica in the 16th century, is imported into India from Afghanistan and Turkestan to a limited extent; it is the produce of Cotoneaster nummularia (Rosaceae), and to a less extent of Atraphaxis spinosa (Polygonaceae); it is brought chiefly from Herat.

1 See Bombay Lit. Tr., vol. i. art. 16, for details as to the gazangubin. A common Persian sweetmeat consists of wheat-flour kneaded with manna into a thick paste.

Oak manna or Gueze-elefi, according to Haussknecht, is collected from the twigs of Quercus Vallonia and Q. persica, on which it is produced by the puncture of an insect during the month of August. This manna occurs in the state of agglutinated tears, and forms an object of some industry among the wandering tribes of Kurdistan. It is collected before sunrise, by shaking the grains of manna on to linen cloths spread out beneath the trees, or by dipping the small branches in hot water and evaporating the solution thus obtained. A substance collected by the inhabitants of Laristan from Pyrus glabra strongly resembles oak manna in appearance.

Australian or Eucalyptus manna is found on the leaves of Eucalyptus viminalis, E. Gunnii, var. rubida, E. pulverulenta, &c. The Lerp manna of Australia is of animal origin.

Briancon manna is met with on the leaves of the common Larch, and bide-khecht on those of the willow, Salix fragilis; and a kind of manna was at one time obtained from the cedar.

The manna of the Biblical narrative, notwithstanding the miraculous circumstances which distinguish it from anything now known, answers in its description very closely to the tamarisk manna.

See Bentley and Trimen, Medicinal Plants (1880); Watt, Dictionary of Economic Products of India, under "Manna" (1891). For analyses see A. Ebert, Abst. J.C.S., 1909, 96, p. 176.


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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Heb. man-hu, "What is that?" the name given by the Israelites to the food miraculously supplied to them during their wanderings in the wilderness (Ex 16:15ff).

The name is commonly taken as derived from man, an expression of surprise, "What is it?" but more probably it is derived from manan, meaning "to allot," and hence denoting an "allotment" or a "gift." This "gift" from God is described as "a small round thing," like the "hoar-frost on the ground," and "like coriander seed," "of the colour of bdellium," and in taste "like wafers made with honey." It was capable of being baked and boiled, ground in mills, or beaten in a mortar (Ex 16:23; Num 11:7).

If any was kept over till the following morning, it became corrupt with worms; but as on the Sabbath none fell, on the preceding day a double portion was given, and that could be kept over to supply the wants of the Sabbath without becoming corrupt. Directions concerning the gathering of it are fully given (Ex 16:16ff; Deut 8:3). It fell for the first time after the eighth encampment in the desert of Sin, and was daily furnished, except on the Sabbath, for all the years of the wanderings, till they encamped at Gilgal, after crossing the Jordan, when it suddenly ceased, and where they "did eat of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more" (Josh 5:12). They now no longer needed the "bread of the wilderness."

This manna was evidently altogether a miraculous gift, wholly different from any natural product with which we are acquainted, and which bears this name. The manna of European commerce comes chiefly from Calabria and Sicily. It drops from the twigs of a species of ash during the months of June and July. At night it is fluid and resembles dew, but in the morning it begins to harden. The manna of the Sinaitic peninsula is an exudation from the "manna-tamarisk" tree (Tamarix mannifera), the el-tarfah of the Arabs. This tree is found at the present day in certain well-watered valleys in the peninsula of Sinai. The manna with which the people of Israel were fed for forty years differs in many particulars from all these natural products.

Jesus refers to the manna when he calls himself the "true bread from heaven" (Jn 6:31ff). He is also the "hidden manna" (Rev 2:17; comp. Jn 6:49ff).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)


Simple English

lawn.]]

Manna, sometimes spelled mana, is a name of a food which, according to the Bible, the Israelites ate while they were traveling 40 years in the desert. It is said in the Bible to taste sweet.

Where did they come from?

Manna is from Heaven, according to the Bible.[1] Some suggest that they were a type of locust; some say that it was the sap of a tree which is known to satisfy hunger.[2] In the Mishna, it is said that it was made during twilight of the sixth day of Creation.[3]

References

  1. Psalm 78:24-25, 105:40, John 6:31
  2. Alhagi mannifera
  3. Pirkei Avot 5:9







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