the Fourth Week of Lent
People's Dictionary of the Bible
Food. The diet of the ancients may be learned from that of oriental people now. Vegetable food is more used than animal. Bread was the principal food; preparations of corn were, however, common. The Hebrews used a great variety of articles, John 21:5, to give a relish to bread. Milk holds a conspicuous place in eastern diet; generally in the form of the modern leben, i.e., sour milk, and "butter;" Genesis 18:8; Judges 5:25; 2 Samuel 17:29. Fruit was another source of diet; figs were generally dried and pressed into cakes. Grapes were eaten in a dried state as raisins. Of vegetables we have most frequent notice of lentils, beans, leeks, onions and garlic, which were and still are of a superior quality in Egypt. Numbers 11:5. Honey is extensively used, as is also olive oil. The orientals are sparing in the use of animal food: not only does the excessive heat of the climate render it both unwholesome to eat much meat and expensive from the necessity of immediately consuming a whole animal, but the regulations of the Mosaic law in ancient, as of the Koran in modern, times have tended to diminish its use. The prohibition against consuming the blood of any animal. Genesis 9:4, was more fully developed in the Levitical law, and enforced by the penalty of death. Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 7:26; Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 12:16. Certain portions of the fat of sacrifices were also forbidden, Leviticus 3:9-10, as being set apart for the altar. Leviticus 3:16; Leviticus 7:25. Christians were forbidden to eat the flesh of animals portions of which had been offered to idols. All beasts and birds classed as unclean, Leviticus 11:1 ff.; Deuteronomy 14:4 ff., were also prohibited. Under these restrictions the Hebrews were permitted the use of animal food: they availed themselves of it in the exercise of hospitality or at festivals of a religious, public or private character. The animals killed for meat were: calves, lambs, oxen, harts, roebucks and fallow deer, and other clean animals; birds of various kinds; fish, with the exception of such as were without scales and fins. Locusts, of which certain species only were esteemed clean, were occasionally eaten, Matthew 3:4, but were regarded as poor fare.
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Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Food'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​rpd/​f/food.html. 1893.