Manna in the desert

Sonnenuntergang auf dem Sinai
Sundown on the Sinai

The bible is full of events best explained as involvement of aliens, alternative authors like Erich von Daeniken claim. If those events are historical, there is no way that they could have happened naturally. One example is the trek of the israelites through the Sinai desert after their exodus from Egypt. For forty years they wandered around in this arid climate, without water, without food, but The Lord cared for them.
Alternative authors are sure: "The Lord" was in fact an alien who had chosen the Israelites for sociological studies who used technical means to provide for his people. But how was this providing done exactly?
For sure there were no daily provision drops from spaceships, they would be mentioned in the bible. So the provision with food must have been done on location. With a technical device the Egyptians always carried around.
Then there is the story about that mysterious substance "Manna" the israelites lived from during their years in the desert. Every morning it was simply there, lying around in the desert. Given by The Lord, and nobody today knows where it came from.
And wasn’t it that the lord himself gave order to build a strange chest from acacia wood? There are many stories about the strange properties of this chest in the bible – is it possible that this chest was a transportation unit for a high tech machine which produced manna? A sort of bio reactor?

This speculation is for some decades now part of the PA. Two British engineers were successful in designing a technical device which is able to do the trick, to produce Manna, mobile and for the layman’s eye out of nothing. So they say. The machine, published in the april edition of the "New Scientist" (and therefore regarded as joke by many readers) is described in such a great detail and with so many calculations, that it is now one of the most important pieces of evidence for contact with aliens in antiquity. And since there has been no scientific critique since 1976 the machine is seen as reality by many alternative authors.

Is this really the long sought proof?


The basis of the Manna story should be known to almost everyone in the western world. The flight of the people of Israel out of Egypt and into the desert. The bible tells us, that the people of Israel hen wandered around in the desert for forty years, through the Sinai desert, one of the most arid regions of the earth. There is no natural water and nothing to eat, and after 15 days the Israelites had run out of food. They already saw their end in starvation, but then…

"13: In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning dew lay round about the camp.
14: And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as hoarfrost on the ground.
15: When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.
16: This is what the LORD has commanded: `Gather of it, every man of you, as much as he can eat; you shall take an omer apiece, according to the number of the persons whom each of you has in his tent.’"
17: And the people of Israel did so; they gathered, some more, some less.
18: But when they measured it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; each gathered according to what he could eat.
19: And Moses said to them, "Let no man leave any of it till the morning."
20: But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them.
21: Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.
22: On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers apiece; and when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses,
23: he said to them, "This is what the LORD has commanded: `Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay by to be kept till the morning.’"
24: So they laid it by till the morning, as Moses bade them; and it did not become foul, and there were no worms in it.
25: Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field.
31: Now the house of Israel called its name manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
35: And the people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land; they ate the manna, till they came to the border of the land of Canaan."
2. Mose 16

Well, that doesn’t sound very alien to me, although the mysterious substance "Manna" is still a riddle today. For hundreds of years experts have argued about its nature, but no satisfying explanation could be found. Modern interpretations say that Manna was a secretion of a scale insect living on the few acacias found on the Sinai. Some of the properties of this secretion would fit the description of the bible:

  • The secretion contains sugar and is white
  • It forms small grains and covers trees and bushes like white frost
  • Because of the sugar content it melts in the hot sun
  • It tastes a bit like honey

There also contrasting points:

  • No one would call grains of sugary secretion "bread"
  • The Israelite were not a few nomads, they were "600.000 men at foot without the children"(2. Mose 12 v. 37). To get them fed from scale insect secretion the whole Sinai desert had to be covered by them. And where do these insects got their food from?
The Manna Machine

The English Authors Sassoon and Dale published a thesis in which they claim that manna was industrial produced food, produced by the tribe of Israel itself without knowing it. A secret machine, the so-called manna machine, also known as "Holy Grail", produced algae which were then in several steps converted and baked to waffles.

The description in the "New Scientist":

Schema Manna-Maschine"At the top is a dew-still: a refrigerated, corrugated surface over which air is drawn, from which water condenses. This is fed to a container in the center of which is a powerful light-source for irradiating a culture, possibly of Chlorella-type algae. There are dozens of strains of Chlorella, and the balance of protein, carbohydrate, and fat in a chosen strain can be varied by choosing the appropriate conditions of growth for the culture.  
This algal culture circulates through pipes which permit an exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide with the atmosphere, and also dissipate heat. The Chlorella sludge is drawn off into another vessel where it is treated so that the starch is partially hydrolyzed to maltose, which is then burnt slightly to give the honey-and-wafers flavor….The dried material is then fed to two vessels. One is emptied daily to provide the day’s supply, and the other fills slowly during the week so that two days’ supply is available on the eve of the Sabbath…." George Sassoon and Rodney Dale, New Scientist, 1. April 1976

The size of the machine

It sounds nice, but when you start to think of it, some thing begin to make not much sense. Other authors using the idea of the manna machine seem to think so, too. One of these problems is the size.
In the article above no size is mentioned, but in their later published book they gave a height of the machine of 5 meters, and a maximum width of 4 meters. The algae tank alone has according to their drawings a diameter of at least 1.75 m. This thing alone would weight with its 2.8 m3 filled more than 3 tons (Dale/Sassoon even give 5 cubic meters as volume, so we can assume 6 or more tons weight). The whole contraption, with reactor, shielding and everything else would be heavier than 10 tons. And that thing had to be carried around the desert for more than 40 years!
"No problem" you might say, "the Egyptians built their pyramids also in decades from multi-ton blocks, so where’s the problem". Well, there are some differences between pyramid building and dredging a 10 t leviathan through the desert, you know…

  • There at the pyramids they had flattened transport roads, here in the desert thy had to cross all sorts of terrain.
  • There only some stones hat to be moved around, if one broke they used the pieces, here a complicated piece of technology had to be kept operational for decades.
  • There they were at a fully supported building site, with an infinite water reservoir only a few 100 meters away – here the provision with water is still unexplained, and the manna machine is of no help.

Sledges and carts are because of the weight and the terrain out of question, the only way to transport such a monster was by carrying it. The Egyptians carried shrines with a system of spars, so maybe the Israelites used something similar here.How many people were necessary to transport that machine?
The weight per person cannot be too large, 20 kilos at maximum. So we need about 500 people, if we use eight spars to carry the machine we need 62 men per spar, if we could use 16 spars we need 32 men per spar. Since every man needs some place, the resulting construction had at least a diameter of 60-70 meters.

Unfortunately there is no word about such a mass transport in the bible. Even more fatal is it when we use the Exodus scenario from Dale/Sassoon: They want to shrink Israel to 600 Families with 1 man, one woman and three children. So 85% of the male population were alone used to carry only this machine around!

This is in stark contrast to the other claims:

"There is no description of the machine in the bible. Apparently it was so secret that only the priest knew it and told about it only in the secret circles of their priesthood…" [ 1 ]

But how do you keep a 60 m diameter heavy duty transport a secret, which needed more than two thirds of the male population? Why is there not a single word about it in the bible, where even a chest from acadia wood is mentioned? This discrepancy was obvious to other authors using Dale/Sassoons idea, therefore their manna machine has some different characterizations:

"We have to conclude therefore, that the machine was build for reasons of weight- and size reduction from very light materials ant that it was relatively small, not larger than a man." [ 2 ]

Even more concrete was the late Dr. Johannes Fiebag on his Homepage, where he developed the "modern" PS-standard definition of this machine:

"The complete machine was regarded as a deity or demi-deity consisting of male and female parts. It was given to the Israelites at the beginning of their wandering in the wilderness, possibly by extraterrestrials and produced the manna which enabled them to survive.
By all accounts, the machine was kept in the so-called Ark of the Covenant, which served as a transport container for the nuclear-powered machine, which was easily damaged under desert conditions. In the time of David an Solomon it found its place in the Holy of Holies in Solomons Temple in Jerusalem, while before that it was kept in the Holy Tent, or Tabernacle."
by Dr. Johannes Fiebag and Peter Fiebag
Translated from the German by George T. Sassoon[ 3 ]

So the Fiebags claim on their page, which was personally translated into English by Sassoon himself, one of the original authors, that the machine was transported in the chest of acadia wood – the Ark. Since Sassoon himself translated this passage for the Fiebags we have to assume, that he endorses their opinion.

Wrong. In a later discussion he vehemently dissented the idea, that his machine could have be transported in the Ark – because its size of 3 1/2 by 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 cubits are definitively given in he bible – and its much to small. We don’t know what cubit was used, there were several between 46 and 52.5 centimeters in use. The Egyptian cubit had a length of 52.36 cm, with this cubit the dimensions of he Ark were 1.8 x 0.78 x 0.78 m – a volume of less than one cubic meter! If we scale down the original machine to fit in the algae tank had a diameter of only 63 centimeters, and a volume of only 130 liters. This has drastic influence on the yield of the machine, as we see later.

So we have a classic dilemma at hand. Sassoon KNOWS that a machine small and secret enough can not produce enough, and the other authors know that a machine proposed by Sassoon, capable of providing for the people can never be a secret.