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  1. Matthieu Pageau

    Manna from Heaven & Flesh from the Sea.
    A glimpse of the left and right can also be found in the Exodus when manna is given to the Israelites. There are two accounts: (1) Exodus ch. 16 and (2) Numbers ch 11. The first account is focused on “manna” and the second on “flesh” (in the form of quails from the sea). There is a definite right-left duality to be found: Manna is described as “white” and as “frost” while Flesh is red and warm; manna is found at dawn while the quails (flesh) are found at dusk. Manna comes from Heaven while the quails come from the “sea” (or the west-Egypt).
    Further: manna is said to resemble the coriander “seed”. The notion of “seed” is a clear reference to the pure and simple logos (or law). Manna is also defined as their core nutrition: they are only allowed to gather what is strictly necessary each day (anything ‘left’-over will quickly turn to worms… in this case too, excess of the right becomes left).
    The description of “flesh” (in Numbers.11) is also quite revealing and makes the duality very clear. It is connected to the “mixed multitude” and carries with it a kind of punishment: “You shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; but a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you; because you have rejected the Lord who is among you, and have troubled Him with weeping, saying: Why, now, have we come out of Egypt?”.(v.20) And later: “While the flesh was yet between their teeth, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a great plague. (v.33).”
    Even more interesting is that part of the flesh narrative (Num 11: 13-17) is directly connected to the dissipation or dispersion of the authority of Moses. The spirit of God that was given to Moses has to be spread out into 70 elders on account of this demand for flesh. And so the giving of flesh comes with decentralization and a spreading out of the spirit:
    “Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they trouble me with their weeping, saying: Give us flesh, that we may eat. I am not able to bear all this people myself alone, because it is too heavy for me…. And the LORD said unto Moses: Gather unto Me seventy men of the elders of Israel… And I will come down and speak with thee there; and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone”.
    Moses himself appears as a kind of “right pillar” in this story which cannot bear the people alone on account of their need for “flesh”. There is also the need for a “left pillar” alongside Moses. The left is often found in the person of Aaron (e.g. the golden calf incident) or in the transfiguration, with Moses on one side and Elijah on the other.

    1. Thanks for that. It goes so well with the insistence I have been putting on left hand representing flesh. I usually forget that the quails in the desert were a “condescension” and come with consequences. Thinking in that direction opens up a whole area, and we can see how in the same vein, the permitting of eating meat coming after the flood is also the same kind of condescension, with all of these images pointing to the incarnation as the ultimate “kenosis”, lowering. It also gives a wider vision of “bread becoming flesh” and the whole notion of Abel being united with Cain that comes with the incarnation!

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