butter Summary and Overview
butter in Easton's Bible Dictionary
(Heb. hemah), curdled milk (Gen. 18:8; Judg. 5:25; 2 Sam. 17:29), or butter in the form of the skim of hot milk or cream, called by the Arabs kaimak, a semi-fluid (Job 20:17; 29:6; Deut. 32:14). The words of Prov. 30:33 have been rendered by some "the pressure [not churning] of milk bringeth forth cheese."
butter in Smith's Bible Dictionary
Curdled milk. #Ge 18:8; De 32:14; Jud 5:25; Job 20:17| Milk is generally offered to travellers in Israel in a curdled or sour state, leben, thick, almost like butter. Hasselquist describes the method of making butter employed by the Arab women: "they made butter in a leather bag, hung on three poles erected for the purpose, in the form of a cone, and drawn to and fro by two women."
butter in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
BUT'TER . As this word is used in the Scriptures, it probably means sour or coagulated milk, which, when mingled with water, is still regarded as a very agreeable and refreshing beverage by Eastern nations. Gen 18:8. Their butter, such as it was, might have been sometimes clarified and preserved in jars, as at the present day in Asia, and when poured out resembles rich oil. The figurative expression in Job 29:6, "I washed my steps with butter," denotes primarily the abundance with which the patriarch was blessed; but it is also supposed by some to refer to the great quantities of cream which his herds produced, and which were trodden into butter. This fanciful interpretation aside, the passage seems to be self-explanatory, the figurative allusion to butter having the same force and effect as that to oil. The place of butter as a general article of food in the East was supplied in some measure by the vegetable oil which was so abundant. Butter was made by pouring the milk into a goat-skin, and then shaking or treading it to and fro in a uniform direction until the separation of the butter took place. The butter mentioned in Jud 5:25 was probably cream, or a preparation of which cream was a component part. It is not improbable that the bottle of milk in the passage cited was no other than a skin which had been used as a churn, and that the refreshment was butter-milk, presented in the richest vessel that was at hand. Butter-milk is still esteemed a most refreshing beverage by the Arabs. Butter and honey were used together, and were esteemed among the choicest productions of the land. And travellers tell us that the Arabs now use cream or new butter mixed with honey as a principal delicacy.
butter in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
cheme'ah, from an Arabic root meaning "coagulated." Curdled milk, curds, butter, and cheese (Judges 5:25; 2 Samuel 17:29). But the butter in the East is more fluid and less solid than ours. The milk is put in a whole goatskin bag, sewed up, and hung on a frame so as to swing to and fro. The fluidity explains Job 20:17, "brooks of honey and butter"; Job 29:6, "I washed my steps with butter." Isaiah 7:15; Isaiah 7:22, "butter and honey shall he eat": besides these being the usual food for children, and so in the case of the prophetess' child typifying the reality of Christ's humanity, which stooped to the ordinary food of infants, a state of distress over the land is implied, when through the invaders milk and honey, things produced spontaneously, should be the only abundant food. In Psalm 55:21 the present reading is properly "smooth are the butter-masses (i.e. sweetness) of his mouth." The Chaldee version translated as KJV Gesenius explains Proverbs 30:33, "the pressure (not 'churning') of milk bringeth forth cheese."