What is Butter?
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.