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Manners & Customs: Bread
Bread in Ancient Bible Times

Baking Bread and Ovens Baking of bread. The most primitive method of baking bread was the laying of cakes of dough on heated stones.11 A Scriptural example of this is from the experience of Elijah. (I Kings 19:6): "And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head." Another simple method of baking is the digging in the ground of a hole four or five feet deep, and three feet in diameter, and after this oven is heated, the dough is rolled out until it is no thicker than a person's finger, and then it is struck against the oven's sides where it instantly bakes. Sometimes a great stone pitcher is used as an oven. In the bottom of it a fire is made among small flints that retain the heat. The dough is placed on these and is quickly baked. Sometimes the dough is rolled out quite thin and is stuck on the outside of the hot pitcher where it bakes. Some have thought that it was this pitcher-oven that was meant in Leviticus 2:4, where two types of unleavened bread were to be baked. The cakes of fine flour would be baked inside the pitcher-oven, and the wafers would be baked on the outside of it. Another type of simple oven is a large earthenware jar, into which the fuel is placed, and when the jar is hot enough the thin cakes are laid on the outside to cook.14 When bread was baked individually by each family in Bible days, some such method as has been described was probably used by the ordinary homes. But often today, as in the days of Sacred Writ, bread was and is baked in either a semipublic oven, or in the oven of a public baker. Sometimes each town might have several of these ovens. One type of such an oven consists of a big earthen tube, some three feet in diameter, and about five feet long. It is sunk in the ground inside a hut. The women take their turn in baking their bread. The fuel is thrown into the tube, and when the fire gets hot, and billows of smoke and tongues of flame come from the deep hole, the hut, without any chimney in it, begins to resemble an active crater. Malachi must have seen such an oven when he wrote the words, "For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven: and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble" (Malachi 4:1).15 Another type of Oriental oven "is a long, low, stonebuilt vault, like half a railway-engine's boiler, with a stone pavement down the middle, and a long narrow strip at each side for the firewood."16 Each night the ashes are taken out, and often the children of poor families will bring a piece of tin, or of a broken water jar, and carry home on this some of the embers of the fire with which to start the fire at home for the evening meal. Hosea makes mention of "an oven heated by the baker" (Hosea 7:4). This would indicate that some of the people brought their bread to a baker to do the baking. The city of Jerusalem had its Baker's Street in the time of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37:21). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Bread BREAD Bread the principal food. In the Orient it has been estimated that three-fourths of the people live entirely upon either bread or upon that which is made from wheat or barley flour. It is unquestionably the principal food of the East. In the Bible such an expression as "eating bread" is often used when Occidentals would say: "eating a meal." When the Bible says, "The Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews" (Genesis 43:31, 32), it means that they could not eat a meal with them (See also Genesis 37:25; Exodus 2:20; I Samuel 28:22-25). Sacredness of bread. The Palestinians are brought up to think of bread as having a mystic sacred meaning. In some places they have such a reverence for bread that they will not arise to salute a guest, if they are in the midst of breaking bread together, but will wait till they are finished. Such is their attitude toward bread. It may be said that this attitude of the people toward bread is essentially religious. Everything about bread from the sowing of the seed to the baking of the loaves is done in the name of GOD. These Orientals sense the importance of the petition in the disciple's prayer: "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). It was to men who really appreciate the value of bread, that JESUS first said, "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35). Since there is this attitude of sacredness in relation to "the staff of life," there grows out of it the universal Eastern custom of breaking bread and not cutting it. One who has lived in Israel says about the natives of the country: "They never put a knife to bread, holding it to be absolutely wicked to cut it, but always break it into pieces with their fingers." [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Bread in Easton's Bible Dictionary among the Jews was generally made of wheat (Ex. 29:2; Judg. 6:19), though also sometimes of other grains (Gen. 14:18; Judg. 7:13). Parched grain was sometimes used for food without any other preparation (Ruth 2:14). Bread was prepared by kneading in wooden bowls or "kneading troughs" (Gen. 18:6; Ex. 12:34; Jer. 7:18). The dough was mixed with leaven and made into thin cakes, round or oval, and then baked. The bread eaten at the Passover was always unleavened (Ex. 12:15-20; Deut. 16:3). In the towns there were public ovens, which were much made use of for baking bread; there were also bakers by trade (Hos. 7:4; Jer. 37:21). Their ovens were not unlike those of modern times. But sometimes the bread was baked by being placed on the ground that had been heated by a fire, and by covering it with the embers (1 Kings 19:6). This was probably the mode in which Sarah prepared bread on the occasion referred to in Gen. 18:6. In Lev. 2 there is an account of the different kinds of bread and cakes used by the Jews. (See BAKE -T0000419.) The shew-bread (q.v.) consisted of twelve loaves of unleavened bread prepared and presented hot on the golden table every Sabbath. They were square or oblong, and represented the twelve tribes of Israel. The old loaves were removed every Sabbath, and were to be eaten only by the priests in the court of the sanctuary (Ex. 25:30; Lev. 24:8; 1 Sam. 21:1-6; Matt. 12:4). The word bread is used figuratively in such expressions as "bread of sorrows" (Ps. 127:2), "bread of tears" (80:5), i.e., sorrow and tears are like one's daily bread, they form so great a part in life. The bread of "wickedness" (Prov. 4:17) and "of deceit" (20:17) denote in like manner that wickedness and deceit are a part of the daily life.

Bread in Fausset's Bible Dictionary First undoubtedly mentioned in Genesis 18:6. The best being made of wheat; the inferior of barley, used by the poor, and in scarcity (John 6:9; John 6:13; Revelation 4:6; 2 Kings 4:38; 2 Kings 4:42). An ephah or "three measures" was the amount of meal required for a single baking, answering to the size of the oven (Matthew 13:33). The mistress of the house and even a king's daughter did not think baking beneath them (2 Samuel 13:8). Besides there were public bakers (Hosea 7:4), and in Jerusalem a street tenanted by bakers (Jeremiah 37:21); Nehemiah mentions "the tower of the furnaces," or ovens (Nehemiah 3:11; Nehemiah 12:38). Their loaf was thinner in shape and crisper than ours, from whence comes the phrase, not cutting, but breaking bread (Matthew 14:19; Acts 20:7; Acts 20:11). Exodus 12:34 implies the small size of their kneading troughs, for they were "bound up in their clothes (the outer garment, a large square cloth) upon their shoulders." As bread was made in thin cakes it soon became dry, as the Gibeonites alleged as to their bread (Joshua 9:12), and so fresh bread was usually baked every day, which usage gives point to "give us day by day our daily bread" (Luke 11:3). When the kneading was completed leaven was added; but when time was short unleavened cakes were hastily baked, as is the present Bedouin usage; termed in Exodus 12:8-20 matsowt, i.e. pure loaves, having no leaven, which ferments the dough and so produces corruption, and is therefore symbol of mortal corruption (1 Corinthians 5:8); therefore excluded from the Passover, as also to commemorate the haste of Israel's departure. Leaven was similarly excluded from sacrifices (Leviticus 2:11). The leavened dough was sometimes exposed to a moderate heat all night while the baker slept: Hosea 7:4-6; "as an oven heated by the baker who ceaseth from raising (rather, heating) after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened; for they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait ... their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire." Their heart was like an oven first heated by Satan, then left to burn with the pent up fire of their corrupt passions. Like the baker sleeping at night, Satan rests secure that at the first opportunity the hidden fires will break forth, ready to execute whatever evil he suggests. The bread was divided into round cakes, or "loaves," three of which sufficed for one person's meal (Luke 11:5). "Bread of affliction" or "adversity" would be a quantity less than this (1 Kings 22:27; Isaiah 30:20). Oil was sometimes mixed with the flour. There were also cakes of finer flour, called "heart cakes" (as our "cordial" is derived from cor, "the heart"), a heart strengthening pastry (2 Samuel 13:8-10 margin), a pancake, possibly with stimulant seeds in it, quickly made; such as Tamar prepared and shook out (not "poured" as a liquid) from the pan, for Amnon. The loaves used to be taken to the oven in a basket upon the head (Genesis 40:16), which exactly accords with Egyptian usage, men carrying burdens on their heads, women on their shoulders. The variety of Egyptian confectionery is evident from the monuments still extant. The "white baskets" may mean "baskets of white bread." The oven of each house was a stone or metal jar, heated inwardly, often with dried "grass" (illustrating Matthew 6:30). When the fire burned down the cakes were applied inwardly or outwardly. Cakes were sometimes baked on heated stones, or between layers of dung, the slow burning of which adapts it for baking (Ezekiel 4:15). They needed to be turned in baking, like Scotch oatcakes. Hosea 7:8, "Ephraim is a cake not turned": burnt on one side, unbaked on the other, the fire spoiling, not penetrating it; so religious professors, outwardly warm, inwardly cold; on one side overdone, on the other not vitally influenced at all; Jehus professing great "zeal for the Lord," really zealous for themselves.

Bread in Naves Topical Bible Called the STAFF OF LIFE Eze 4:16; 5:16; 14:13 -KINDS OF Bread of affliction 1Ki 22:27; Ps 127:2; Ho 9:4; Isa 30:20 Leavened (made with yeast) Le 7:13; 23:17; Ho 7:4; Am 4:5; Mt 13:33 Unleavened (made without yeast) Ge 19:3; Ex 29:2; Jud 6:19; 1Sa 28:24 -Made of wheat flour Ex 29:2; 1Ki 4:22; 5:11; Ps 81:16 -Manna Nu 11:8 -Meal 1Ki 17:12 -Barley Jud 7:13 -HOW PREPARED Mixed with oil Ex 29:2,23 Honey Ex 16:31 With leaven, or ferment See leavened, in the paragraph above Also see LEAVEN Kneaded Ge 18:6; Ex 8:3; 12:34; 1Sa 28:24; 2Sa 13:8; Jer 7:18; Ho 7:4 Made into loaves 1Sa 10:3; 17:17; 25:18; 1Ki 14:3; Mr 8:14 Cakes 2Sa 6:19; 1Ki 17:12 Wafers Ex 16:21; 29:23 Cracknels 1Ki 14:3 Baked in ovens Ex 8:3; Le 2:4; 7:9; 11:35; 26:26; Ho 7:4 in pans Le 2:5,7; 2Sa 13:6-9 on hearths Ge 18:6 on coals 1Ki 19:6; Isa 44:19; Joh 21:9 on coals of dung Eze 4:12,15 -Made by men Ge 40:2 -Made by women Le 26:26; 1Sa 8:13; Jer 7:18 -Traffic in Jer 37:21; Mr 6:37 -Sacrificed Le 21:6,8,17,21,22; 22:25; 1Sa 2:36; 2Ki 23:9 -By idolaters Jer 7:18; 44:19 -See SHEWBREAD -See OFFERINGS -FIGURATIVE Isa 55:2; 1Co 10:17; 2Co 9:10 Christ Joh 6:32-35 -SYMBOLICAL Of the body of Christ Mt 26:26; Ac 20:7; 1Co 11:23,24

Bread in Smiths Bible Dictionary The preparation of bread as an article of food dates from a very early period. Ge 18:6 The corn or grain employed was of various sorts. The best bread was made of wheat, but "barley" and spelt were also used. Joh 6:9,13; Isa 28:25 The process of making bread was as follows: the flour was first mixed with water or milk; it was then kneaded with the hands (in Egypt with the feet also) in a small wooden bowl or "kneading-trough" until it became dough. Ex 12:34,39; 2Sa 13:3; Jer 7:18 When the kneading was completed, leaven was generally added [LEAVEN]; but when the time for preparation was short, it was omitted, and unleavened cakes, hastily baked, were eaten as is still the prevalent custom among the Bedouins. ( Ge 18:6; 19:3; Ex 12:39; Jud 6:19; 1Sa 28:24 The leavened mass was allowed to stand for some time, Mt 13:33; Lu 13:21 the dough was then divided into round cakes, Ex 29:23; Jud 7:13; 8:5; 1Sa 10:3; Pr 6:26 not unlike flat stones in shape and appearance, Mt 7:9 comp. Matt 4:8 about a span in diameter and a finger's breadth in thickness. In the towns where professional bakers resided, there were no doubt fixed ovens, in shape and size resembling those in use among ourselves; but more usually each household poured a portable oven, consisting of a stone or metal jar, about three feet high which was heated inwardly with wood, 1Ki 17:12; Isa 44:15; Jer 7:18 or dried grass and flower-stalks. Mt 6:30

Bread in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE bred (lechem; artos): I. DIETARY PREEMINENCE II. MATERIALS 1. Barley 2. Wheat 3. Three Kinds of Flour III. BREAD-MAKING 1. Grinding 2. Kneading 3. Baking (1) Hot Stones (2) Baking Pans 4. Ovens (1) The Bowl-Oven (2) The Jar-Oven (3) The Pit-Oven 5. Forms of Baked Bread 6. Work for Women IV. SANCTITY AND SYMBOLISM OF BREAD 1. Sanctity 2. Symbolism LITERATURE The art of bread-making is very ancient. It was even known to the Egyptians at a very early day (Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians), to the Hebrews of the Exodus (Nowack, Lehrbuch der hebr. Archaologie) and, of course, to the Greeks and Romans of a later day. Bread played a large part in the vocabulary and in the life of the ancient Hebrews. I. Dietary Preeminence. (1) In the East bread is primary, other articles of food merely accessory; while in the West meat and other things chiefly constitute the meal, and bread is merely secondary. Accordingly "bread" in the Old Testament, from Gen 3:19 onward, stands for food in general. (2) Moreover in ancient times, as now, most probably, when the peasant, carpenter, blacksmith or mason left home for the day's work, or when the muleteer or messenger set out on a journey, he wrapped other articles of food, if there were any, in the thin loaves of bread, and thus kept them ready for his use as needed. (3) Often the thin, glutinous loaf, puffed out with air, is seen today, opened on one side and used so as to form a natural pouch, in which meat, cheese, raisins and olives are enclosed to be eaten with the bread (see Mackie in DCG, article "Bread"). The loaf of bread is thus made to include everything and, for this reason also, it may fitly be spoken of as synonymous with food in general. To the disciples of Jesus, no doubt, "Give us this day our daily bread" would naturally be a petition for all needed food, and in the case of the miraculous feeding of the multitude it was enough to provide them with "bread" (Mt 14:15 ff). II. Materials. 1. Barley: Barley was in early times, as it is today, the main bread- stuff of the Israel peasantry (see Jdg 7:13; where "the cake of barley bread" is said to be "the sword of Gideon"), and of the poorer classes of the East in general (see Jn 6:13, where the multitude were fed on the miraculous increase...

Bread Scripture - 2 Samuel 12:21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing [is] this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, [while it was] alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.

Bread Scripture - 2 Samuel 9:10 Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in [the fruits], that thy master's son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master's son shall eat bread alway at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.

Bread Scripture - Deuteronomy 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every [word] that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Bread Scripture - Deuteronomy 8:9 A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any [thing] in it; a land whose stones [are] iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.

Bread Scripture - Ezekiel 4:9 Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, [according] to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.

Bread Scripture - Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.

Bread Scripture - Judges 13:16 And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he [was] an angel of the LORD.

Bread Scripture - Leviticus 21:21 No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.

Bread Scripture - Leviticus 21:22 He shall eat the bread of his God, [both] of the most holy, and of the holy.

Bread Scripture - Leviticus 23:20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits [for] a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.

Cutting Bread To cut bread would be thought of as cutting life itself. This custom of breaking bread rather than cutting it, is found throughout the Scriptures. In Lamentations 4:4 we read: "The young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them." Thus the expression "breaking of bread" came to mean the taking of a meal whatever was included in the meal. Because CHRIST broke bread when He instituted the ordinance of the LORD's Supper, the expression came to refer to that ordinance. Matthew 26:26: "Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to his disciples." Thus we read in Acts 20:7: "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them." [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Kinds of Bread Kinds of bread used. Two kinds of bread were in use in the days when Bible events were being enacted: wheat bread, and barley bread. Both of these are in use in Israel today. There is this distinction between them: barley bread is used by the poorer classes, whereas if a family is able to have wheat bread, it is considered to have arrived at a place well up in the comfort scale.8 This same distinction was true in the Old Testament days and also New Testament times. When the "cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian" in the dream of the Midianite soldier (Judges 7:13), it was an indication that the enemy despised Israel, as a more favored people eating wheat bread would despise eaters of barley bread, and yet GOD was to use the despised Israelites of Gideon's army to overpower those proud Midianites. The lad who had his five barley loaves and gave them to Jesus, and saw Him multiply them to feed five thousand (John 6:9), must have come from the poorer class, but his humble contribution made possible a great miracle, and the crowd was satisfied with that kind of bread. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Loaves of Bread Form of loaves. In the Holy Land where the old customs prevail, bread takes three forms: First, there are the small loaves which somewhat resemble the light bread biscuits of this country. It was this kind the lad had and gave to Jesus. Second, there are the larger loaves, nearly as heavy as the modern loaves of the West, but round instead of rectangular. The ten loaves which Jesse sent by David to the camp of Israel were probably of this form (I Samuel 17:17). Third, there are the flat loaves which are thin like paper. These are something like American hot cakes only bigger around and much thinner. When served some of these, one man from the West thought they were napkins and started to use them as such. This kind of bread is used to take the place of the knife, fork, or spoon of the Occidental; Easterners "cup it up" and use it to dip into the food sauces (see Chapter 6). It is quite pliable; and the men fold it up and put it in their scrip, and take it with them, so they can eat it as needed. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Traveling with Food Food taken by travelers. Travelers going a distance will carry food with them, which will include bread, parched grain, dried olives, dried figs, and dates. Most travelers in the East now, as in the days of JESUS, will not go any distance from home without taking barley bread or meal or parched grain sufficient to last for one or two days. When JESUS performed the miracle of feeding the four thousand, he said, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way" (Matthew 15:32). According to custom, the multitude would have a day or two's supply of food with them when they flocked to hear JESUS. But on the third day, seven loaves and a few small fish was all that was left. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

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