Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Posts Tagged ‘Ten Commandments’

Manna From Heaven

Posted by Admin on September 17, 2010

From time to time, you hear people who get unexpected help or something very good they didn’t expect say that it’s “Manna from Heaven.”

The reference is to the food God gave to the Israelites after the food they had brought with them out of Egypt had run out.  In the Book of Exodus, the Israelites found it one morning after the dew had evaporated. 

Upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.  (Exodus 16:15)

Manna was the name given by the Israelites to the food they found.  In the Quran, the Arabic word for manna is “manna-o-salva.”

The Ark of the Covenant is believed to be the most sacred and revered object of ancient Israelite worship. Built under the direction of Moses, it is said to contain the original tables with the Ten Commandments written upon them, some of the Manna from Heaven sent to the Israelites as they fled Egypt, and the rod of Aaron. 

Historical documents show that the Ark of the Covenant was installed in a Temple by King Solomon around 950 BC.  After the dedication of the Temple by King Solomon, there are two references to the Ark of the Covenant in the entire Old Testament.

Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, built; you need no longer carry it upon your shoulders.  (II Chronicles 35:3)

And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says the Lord, they shall no more say, “The ark of the covenant of the Lord.” It shall not come to mind, or be remembered, or missed; it shall not be made again.  (Jeremiah 3:16)

A mural painting in All Saints Church, Friskncy, Lincolnshire, England painted around 1542 bears the title “The Descent of the Manna from Heaven.”  This painting shows manna on a hill-side, the slope of ground being from the right to left of the picture.  In strong relief against the distance, represented by a dark crimson background, a group of people is engaged in gathering the manna.

In a United Press International (UPI) article entitled “The Irish Famine: A Hunger For History” dated April 13, 2001, the author wrote: 

Well written history is like manna from heaven, it is intellectual nourishment for the soul.

And so we can see how it is that the phrase “Manna from  Heaven” now refers to something very good the person felt he or she needed that came to the person unexpectedly.

Posted in Bible, Christian, Jewish, Quran, Religious References | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

To Thine Own Self Be True

Posted by Admin on June 1, 2010

As with yesterday’s phrase, “to thine own self be true” is oftentimes mistaken as a direct quote from the Bible.  It is actually taken from Polonius’ advice to his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet

 Yet here, Laertes! Aboard, aboard for shame!
 The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
 And you are stay’d for.
 There … my blessing with thee!
 And these few precepts in thy memory
 Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
 Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.
 Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
 Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
 Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
 But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
 Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade.  Beware
 Of entrance to a quarrel but, being in,
 Bear’t that th’ opposed may beware of thee.
 Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
 Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgement.
 Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
 But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
 For the apparel oft proclaims the man;
 And they in France of the best rank and station
 Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
 Neither a borrower, nor a lender be;
 For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
 And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
 This above all: to thine own self be true,
 And it must follow, as the night the day,
 Thou canst not then be false to any man.
 Farewell; my blessing season this in thee!

Of course, it’s easy to see how this could happen as what Polonius tells his son is actually Shakespeare reworking the Ninth Commandment:  “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”  

In other words, one should not lie to himself or herself.  When one does not lie to himself or herself, it follows that he or she does not lie to others no matter what the situation.  The Ninth Commandment is phrased in an absolute manner that does not permit exceptions and so one can only be true to himself or herself in following the Commandments.

So while Shakespeare may have coined the phrase “to thine own self be true” the spirit of the phrase has a very long history that reaches back thousands of years into the Old Testament.

Posted in Bible, Christian, Idioms from the 17th Century, Jewish | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »