Manners & Customs: Meat
Meat in the Ancient Biblical World
Bull calves were often used in Bible times for meat. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Various camel products. The Arab of today makes use of camel meat and camel milk. The Mosaic law forbade the Jews to use camel meat "because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you" (Leviticus 11:4). It is possible that they did use the milk, at least in patriarchal times (cf. Genesis 32:15). Camel's hair serves many purposes in the Orient.
At the right season of the year it is removed in tufts and the women spin it into strong thread.
Various coarse fabrics are made from this thread. The Bedouin tents are sometimes made of camel's hair, as are also carpets, rugs, "abayas" or the outer garments, and other items. Matthew says of John the Baptist that he "had his raiment of camel's hair" (Matthew 3:4). The camel's skin is made into leather and from this material are made sandals, leggings, and water bottles. Even the dung of camels is commonly used for fuel.
.[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
How meat was cooked and served. The method of preparing meat has thus been described:
Roasting on a spit was perhaps the oldest way of cooking flesh, but less common among the Israelites than boiling, roast flesh being used as a rule only by the rich and better classes, as is still the case in the East.28
The servants of Eli's sons said to those bringing offerings, "Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw" (I Samuel 2:15). After the meat was cooked it was divided up into small pieces, and a broth was prepared to serve with it, and this would often have vegetables in it.29 Such a broth was used in the days of Gideon and of Isaiah (Judges 6:19,20; Isaiah 65:4).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Use of the meat of kids. The meat of an adult male goat is of course rather tough, and so not ordinarily used. The female goats are seldom killed because they are needed to increase the flock. Thus it is the meat of the young male kid that is largely used in Bible lands. In Old Testament times, when visitors were entertained, often a kid was made ready for the meal (cf. Judges 6:19). The prevalence of the flesh of kids in CHRIST's day is brought out by the reference of the Prodigal's brother. "And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends" (Luke 15:29).
There is sarcasm in this reproval, for the kid was of less value at a banquet than would have been a lamb, and considerably inferior to the fatted calf, which was killed and served on only special occasions to do honor to a very special guest. The brother was objecting to the father serving the fatted calf at the banquet honoring the return of the Prodigal, whereas he as the elder brother had not been given even a kid to make merry with his friends. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Hunters Killed Fowl for Meat
Fowl killed for meat. GOD's wholesale supply of quail for Israel in the wilderness is indication of the popularity of that kind of meat among ancient hunters. The Arabs today have often captured quantities of this bird, and after much of the meat is consumed, the rest of it is preserved for future use by being split and then laid out for the sun to dry it.
This is just what Israel did with its excess supply of quail meat: "And they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp" (Numbers 11:32). Doves and pigeons were also popular as food among the Israelites. Many of them were tamed, but wild ones were often sought after for food as well as for sacrificial purposes. The Bible speaks of their nesting in the clefts and holes of the rocks. "O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock" (Song of Solomon 2:14).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
When meat was eaten and what kinds. As a rule, Bible characters, like Orientals in modern times, have not eaten meat, except on special occasions. When a stranger or guest was entertained, or when a feast was made, then meat would be served.
Kings and other wealthy men had meat often. The daily provision of meat for King Solomon's court is given in Scripture. Four kinds of meat for the king's daily menu are mentioned: beef, mutton. game, and fowl (I Kings 4:23). Abraham served veal to his guests (Genesis 18:7). Gideon's guest was provided with a kid (Judges 6:19). On the shores of the Sea of Galilee, fish was a common article of food in the days of JESUS. CHRIST referred to this when he spoke of a son begging his father for a fish (Luke 11:11). This Scripture might imply that these dwellers near the lake lived mostly on fish. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Meat in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
Not in our sense, "flesh." Thus of the three divisions of
offerings "the burnt, the meat, and the peace offering," the
meat offering is a "present or oblation" (minchah from a
root "to send or offer"), consisting only of flour, grain,
and oil, flesh never being in it as in the other two. In
Psalm 111:5, "He hath given meat (tereph) unto them that
fear Him," literally, spoil such as Israel brought out of
Egypt (Exodus 12:36), and which God had covenanted to
Abraham, Genesis 15:14 (Kimchi). Rather, the manna and
quails, a heaven-sent "booty" (treasure trove) to the
hungering people. Tereph is used for "meat" in general
(Proverbs 31:15; Malachi 3:10). In 1 Corinthians 8:13, "if
meat make my brother to offend," etc., and Romans 14:20,
"for meat destroy not the work of God," brooma means food in
general, not merely flesh.
The minchah denotes generally a gift from an
inferior to a superior, whether God or man (Genesis 4:3-5;
Genesis 32:13); qorban or korban afterward expressed this
general sense. Minchah then was restricted to the unbloody
offering, zebach to the "bloody sacrifice". Necek, "drink
offerings", accompanied the minchah. In Leviticus 2;
Leviticus 6:14-23 the law of the meat offerings is given.
Their ingredients, flour and oil, were the chief vegetable
foods of Israel; so in them the Israelite offered his daily
bread to the Lord, but in a manner distinct from the merely
dedicatory first fruits of grain and bread (compare 1
Chronicles 29:10-14; Deuteronomy 26:5-11). The latter loaves
were leavened, and neither they nor the first fruits sheaf
were burial upon the altar (Leviticus 23:10-11; Leviticus
23:17; Leviticus 23:20). Each meat offering on the contrary
was to be prepared without leaven, and a portion given by
burning to Jehovah for a sweet savor upon the altar.
The rest as a most holy thing was to be eaten in the
holy place by the priests alone as the mediators between
Jehovah and the people. Therefore, the meat offerings did
not denote merely the sanctification of earthly food, but
symbolized the spiritual food enjoyed by the congregation of
the Lord. If even the earthly life is not nourished merely
by the daily bread but by the divine grace which blesses the
food as means of preserving life, much less can the
spiritual life be nourished by earthly food, but only by the
spiritual food which a man partakes of by the Spirit of God
from the true bread of life, the word of God. As oil
symbolizes the Spirit as the principle of all spiritual
life, so bread from the seed of the field symbolizes the
word of God (Luke 8:11; Deuteronomy 8:3). Sanctification
consists in the operation of this spiritual food through the
right use of the means of grace for growth in holiness
(Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12). This inner food fills the
inner man with peace, joy, and blessedness in God.
This fruit of the spiritual life is shadowed forth
in the "meat offerings." They must be free from the "leaven"
of hypocrisy (Luke 12:1) (the leaven of the old nature,
Kurtz), malice, and wickedness (1 Corinthians 5:8), and from
the "honey" of carnal delights, both being destructive of
spiritual life. "The salt of the covenant of God" (i.e. the
purifying, strengthening, and quickening power of the
covenant, whereby moral corruption is averted) and the
incense of prayer were to be added, that the fruit of the
spiritual life might be well pleasing to the Lord (Qeri).
Wine symbolized vigor and refreshment (Psalm 104:15). The
priests' own meat offerings were to be wholly burnt. The sin
offering implied atonement for sin; the burnt offering self
dedication to God; the meat offering spiritual sustenance
through the word and Spirit.
"The prayer to God, Give us this day our daily
bread, is accompanied by the demand on God's part, Give Me
today My daily bread. This demand is answered by the church
when it offers to God in good works that for which God has
endowed it with strength, benediction, and prosperity."
(Hengstenberg, Dissertation on the Pentateuch, ii. 531.) The
meat offering was to be for a "memorial" reminding God of
His people; so Cornelius' alms and prayers (Acts 10:4). The
minchah, as a sacrifice, was something surrendered to God,
which was of the greatest value to man as a means of living.
It was not merely grain, but grain prepared by man's labor.
Hence the minchah, expressed a confession that all our good
works are wrought in God and are due to Him (Speaker's
Commentary, Leviticus 2:14).
Meat in Smiths Bible Dictionary
It does not appear that the word "meat" is used in any one
instance in the Authorized Version of either the Old or New
Testament in the sense which it now almost exclusively bears
of animal food. The latter is denoted uniformly by "flesh."
The word "meat," when our English version was made, meant food
in general; or if any particular kind was designated, it
referred to meal, flour or grain. The only real and
inconvenient ambiguity caused by the change which has taken
place in the meaning of the word is in the case of the "meat
offering." [MEAT OFFERING]
Meat in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
met (broma, brosis): In the King James Version used for food
in general, e.g. "I had my meat of herbs" (2 Esdras 12:51);
"his disciples were gone away into the city to buy meat," the
Revised Version (British and American) "food" (Jn 4:8). The
English word signified whatever is eaten, whether of flesh or
Meat Offering in Easton's Bible Dictionary
(Heb. minhah), originally a gift of any kind. This Hebrew word
came latterly to denote an "unbloody" sacrifice, as
opposed to a
"bloody" sacrifice. A "drink-offering" generally
The law regarding it is given in Lev. 2, and 6:14-23.
It was a
recognition of the sovereignty of God and of his
giving all earthly blessings (1 Chr. 29:10-14; Deut.
It was an offering which took for granted and was
based on the
offering for sin. It followed the sacrifice of blood.
presented every day with the burnt-offering (Ex.
29:40, 41), and
consisted of flour or of cakes prepared in a special
oil and frankincense.
Meat Offering in Smiths Bible Dictionary
The law or ceremonial of the meat offering is described in
Le 2:1 ... and Levi 6:14-23
It was to be composed of fine flour, seasoned with
salt and mixed with oil and frankincense, but without
leaven; and it was generally accompanied by a drink offering
of wine. A portion of it, including all the frankincense,
was to be burnt on the altar as "a memorial;" the rest
belonged to the priest; but the meat offerings offered by
the priests themselves were to be wholly burnt. Its meaning
appears to be exactly expressed in the words of David. 1Ch
29:10-14 It will be seen that this meaning involves neither
of the main ideas of sacrifices --the atonement for sin and
self-dedication to God. It takes them for granted, and is
based on them. Rather it expresses gratitude and love to God
as the giver of all. Accordingly the meat offering, properly
so called, seems always to have been a subsidiary offering,
needing to be introduced by the sin offering which
represented the one idea, and to have formed an appendage to
the burnt offering, which represented the other. The
unbloody offerings offered alone did not properly belong to
the regular meat offerings; they were usually substitutes
for other offerings. Comp. Le 5:11; Nu 5:15 [MEAT]
Meat Scripture - 1 Corinthians 8:13
Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no
flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to
Meat Scripture - 2 Chronicles 7:7
Moreover Solomon hallowed the middle of the court that [was]
before the house of the LORD: for there he offered burnt
offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the
brasen altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive
the burnt offerings, and the meat offerings, and the fat.
Meat Scripture - Deuteronomy 20:20
Only the trees which thou knowest that they [be] not trees for
meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt
build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee,
until it be subdued.
Meat Scripture - Ezekiel 42:13
Then said he unto me, The north chambers [and] the south
chambers, which [are] before the separate place, they [be]
holy chambers, where the priests that approach unto the LORD
shall eat the most holy things: there shall they lay the most
holy things, and the meat offering, and the sin offering, and
the trespass offering; for the place [is] holy.
Meat Scripture - Ezekiel 4:10
And thy meat which thou shalt eat [shall be] by weight, twenty
shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it.
Meat Scripture - Joshua 22:23
That we have built us an altar to turn from following the
LORD, or if to offer thereon burnt offering or meat offering,
or if to offer peace offerings thereon, let the LORD himself
Meat Scripture - Joshua 22:29
God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn
this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt
offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the
altar of the LORD our God that [is] before his tabernacle.
Meat Scripture - Leviticus 2:11
No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be
made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey,
in any offering of the LORD made by fire.
Meat Scripture - Numbers 28:8
And the other lamb shalt thou offer at even: as the meat
offering of the morning, and as the drink offering thereof,
thou shalt offer [it], a sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet
savour unto the LORD.
Meat Scripture - Numbers 7:87
All the oxen for the burnt offering [were] twelve bullocks,
the rams twelve, the lambs of the first year twelve, with
their meat offering: and the kids of the goats for sin
Sheep for meat or sacrificial purposes, Sheep were often eaten when meat was desired. For the ordinary person, meat was not on the daily menu, but was only used on special occasions of rejoicing, as when a feast was prepared, a wedding supper, or when a guest of honor was being entertained. The animal was usually cooked as soon as it was killed, and then was often boiled, although sometimes it was roasted. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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