the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(represented by several Heb. and Gr. words [especially some derivative of the verb אָבֵל, akal', to eat], which are variously rendered in the A.V.). (See VICTUALS).
I. Materials. — The original grant of the Creator made over to man the use of the vegetable world for food (Genesis 1:29), with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17), and, as some hold, also, the tree of life (Genesis 3:22). So long as man continued in Paradise, he doubtless restricted his choice of food within the limits thus defined; but whether, as is commonly stated, we are to regard this as characteristic of the entire period between the creation of Adam and the grant of animal food to Noah after the flood (Genesis 9:3), admits of doubt. It is doing no violence to the passage last cited to view it rather in the light of an ordinance intended to regulate a practice already in use, than as containing the first permission. of that practice; and when we consider that man is, by his original constitution, omnivorous, that there are special adaptations in his frame, as made by God, far the use of animal food, that from the beginning. he was acquainted with the use of fire, that from the beginning there was a distinction known to him between clean and unclean animals (Genesis 7:2; Genesis 7:8), corresponding. apparently to a distinction between animals good for food and animals not so, and that the pastoral was as early as the agricultural occupation among men, it seems more probable than otherwise that the use of animal food was not unknown to the antediluvians. Perhaps some fierce or cruel custom connected with the use of raw flesh, such as Bruce found in his day among the Abyssinians, and. such as Moses glances at (Exodus 12:9), may have prevailed among the more barbarous and ferocious of the antediluvians; and it may have been in order to check this that the communication recorded in Genesis 9:2-5, was made to Noah. It is not, however, to be overlooked that, in the traditions of antiquity, the early age of the world was represented as one in which men did snot use animal food (Diod. Sic. 1:43; 2:38; Ovid, Metam. 1:100 sq.; 15:96 sq.; Fast. 4, 395 sq.).
In the Patriarchal age the food of the ancestors of the Hebrews comprised the flesh of animals both tame and wild, as well as the cereals. We read of their using not only cakes of fine meal, but also milk and butter, and the flesh of the calf, the kid, and game taken by hunting (Genesis 18:6-8; Genesis 27:3-4). They used also leguminous food, and a preparation of lentiles seems to have been a customary and favorite dish with them (Genesis 25:34). They made use also of honey (either honey of bees or sirup of grapes), spices, nuts, and almonds (Genesis 43:11).
During their residence in Egypt the Israelites shared in the abundance of that land; there they "sat by the flesh-pots, and did eat bread to the full" (Exodus 16:3); and amid the privations of the wilderness they remembered with regret and murmuring "the fish which they did eat in Egypt freely (the abundance of fish in Egypt is attested by Diod. Sic. 1:34, 36; and Allian, De Nat. Asim. 10:43), the cucumbers and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic" (Numbers 11:5). These vegetable products have always formed an important part of the food of the people of Egypt; and the abundant use also of animal food by them is sufficiently attested by the monuments (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 2:367- 374).
In their passage through the wilderness, the want of the ordinary materials of food was miraculously supplied to the Israelites by the manna. As it was of importance that their flocks and herds should not be wholly consumed or even greatly reduced before their entering on the promised land, they seem to have been placed under restrictions in the use of animal food, though this was not forbidden (Leviticus 17:3 sq.) and when their longing for this food broke out into rebellious murmurs, a supply was sent to them by means of large flocks of a species of partridge very much ins use in the East (Exodus 16:11-13; Numbers 11:31; comp. Diod. Sic. 1:60).
When they reached the promised land, "the land flowing with milk and honey," abundance of all kinds of food awaited the favored people. The rich pasturelands of Palestine enabled. them to rear and maintain large flocks and herds; game of various kinds was abundant in the more mountainous and uninhabited districts; fish was largely supplied by the rivers and inland seas, and seems to have been used to a considerable extent (2 Chronicles 33:14; Nehemiah 3:3; Matthew 7:10; Matthew 14:17; Matthew 15:34; Luke 24:42; John 21:6-14), so that the destruction of it was represented asa special judgment from God (Isaiah 50:2; Hosea 4:3; Zephaniah 1:3). (See FISH).
In the Mosaic code express regulations are laid down as to the kinds of animals that may be used in food (Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14). Those expressly permitted are, of beasts, the ox, the sheep, the goat, the hart, the roebuck, the fallow-deer, the wild goat, the pygarg, the wild ox, the chamois, and, in general, every beast that parteth the hoof and cleaveth the cleft into two claws [that is, where the hoof is completely parted, and each part is separately eased in bone], and cheweth the cud; of fish, all that have scales and fins; of fowls, all clean birds, that is, all except the carnivorous and piscivorous birds; of insects, the locust, the bald locust, the beetle, and the grasshopper. Whether the Hebrews attended to the rearing of gallinaceous fowls remains a matter of doubt. (See COCK).
Besides animals declared to be unclean, the Israelites were forbidden to use as food anything which had been consecrated to idols (Exodus 34:15);, animals which had died of disease or been torn by wild beasts (Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 22:8; comp. Ezekiel 4:14), and certain parts of animals, viz. the blood,(Leviticus 27:10; Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 12:16-23), the fat covering the intestines, the kidneys, and the fat covering them, the fat of any, part of the ox, or sheep, or goat, especially the fat, tail of certain sheep (Exodus 29:13-22; Leviticus 3:4-10; Leviticus 9:19). They were also forbidden to Use any food or liquids occupying a vessel into which the dead body of any unclean beast had fallen, as well as all food and liquids which had stood uncovered in the apartment of a dead or dying person (Numbers 19:15). The eating of a kid boiled in the milk or fat of its mother was also prohibited (Exodus 23:19; Exodus 32:26; Deuteronomy 14:21). These restrictions rested chiefly, doubtless, on religious and theocratic grounds, (See FAT), but for some of them reasons of a sanitary kind may also have existed. It belonged to the essence of the theocratic system that the people should be constantly surrounded by what reminded them of the separation to Jehovah, and the need of keeping themselves free from all that would level or lower the distinction between them and the nations around them. For this reason specific restrictions were laid upon their diet, which were not attended to by other nations, nor were always insisted on in the case of strangers dwelling within their bounds (Deuteronomy 14:21). This does not, however, preclude our admitting that reasons of a social or political kind may also have conspired to render these restrictions desirable. In warm. climates the importance of avoiding contagion rendered the utmost action necessary in handling whatever may have been exposed to the influence of a corpse; and it is well known that the use of adipose matter in food requires, in such climates, to be restricted within narrow limits. The peculiar prohibition of a kid boiled in its mother's milk was ordained probably for the purpose of avoiding conformity to some idolatrous usage, or for the purpose generally of encouraging humane feelings on the part of the Israelites towards their domesticated animals (Spencer, De Legg. Hebr. Rituall. book 2, chapter 8; Michaelis, Mos. Recht, 4:200). (See CLEAN).
Subject to these restrictions, the Israelites were free to use for food all the produce of their fertile and favored land. "Thou shalt bestow thy money," said God to them, "for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, and thou shalt eat thereof before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou and thy household" (Deuteronomy 14:26). In the enumeration of blessings conferred by God on Israel, we find "honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock, butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat," specified as among his free gifts to his people (Deuteronomy 32:13-14). Though allowed this wide range, however, of animal food, the Hebrews do not seem in ordinary life to have availed themselves of it. The usual food of the people appears to have consisted of milk and its preparations, honey, bread, and vegetables of various sorts; and only at the royal table was animal food in daily use (1 Kings 4:23; Nehemiah 5:18). The animals commonly used for food were calves (Genesis 18:7; 1 Samuel 28:24; Amos 6:4): these were fattened for the purpose, and hence were called fatlings, or fatted calves (μόσχος σιτευτός, Luke 15:23; σιτιστά, Matthew 22:4); lambs, 2 Samuel 12:4; Amos 6:4); sheep (1 Samuel 14:34; 1 Samuel 25:18; 1 Kings 4:23); oxen stall-fed, or from the pastures (1 Kings 1:9; 1 Kings 4:23;. 2 Chronicles 18:2; Matthew 22:4); fat cattle מְרַיא, a particular kind of the bovine genus peculiar to Bashan, supposed by some to be a species of buffalo or ure-ox, but not to be confounded with the fatling or fatted calf above mentioned, 2 Samuel 6:13; 1 Kings 1:9; Amos 5:22; Ezekiel 39:18); kids (1 Samuel 16:20); and various kinds of game, such as the ayil, the tsebi, and the yachmur (1 Kings 5:3 [15:23, A.V.]). The articles brought by Abigail to David were bread, sheep, parched [roasted] corn, raisins, and figs (1 Samuel 25:18); when Ziba met David on his flight from Absalom he brought to him bread, raisins, and summer fruits (2 Samuel 16:1); and the present of Barzillai to the king consisted of wheat, barley, flour, roasted corn, beans, lentils, honey, butter, sheep, and cheese (2 Samuel 17:28). We may presume from this that these formed the principal articles of food among the Jews at this time. Besides raisins or grapes dried in the sun, they used grapes pressed into cakes (אֲשַׁישָׁה ); they had also fig-cakes (דְּבֵלַים ). On special occasions they probably indulged in more costly viands; in times of famine they resorted even to very vile food; in seasons of affliction they abstained from all delicacies, and even sometimes from all food; and to prisoners the food allowed seems to have been only bread and water (1 Kings 22:27; Jeremiah 37:21).
Besides the vegetables above mentioned, the Jews were acquainted with the melon, the cucumber, the mallow, the leek, the onion, garlic, and bitter herbs. In Job 6:6, mention is made of רַיר חִלָּמוּת, which Gesenius would translate purslain-slime, or purslain-broth=something extremely insipid (Thesaur. page 480). The reasons he gives for this are not without force, but cannot be held conclusive. The A.V. "white of an egg," follows the Rabbinical interpretation, which Rosenmuller, Ewald. etc., also approve; Lee (ad verb.) and Furst prefer understanding it of the whey of curdied milk; Renan translates it le jus de la mauve.
The drinks of the Hebrews were, besides water, which was their ordinary beverage, milk, wine, and שֵׁכָר, which in the A.V. is rendered strong drink. To give the water a stronger relish, they probably sometimes dissolved a portion of fig-cake in it, according to the fashion of the Arabs at the present day (Niebuhr, Arab. page 57). The wines used were of various sorts, and sometimes their effect was strengthened by mingling different kinds together, or by the mixture with them of drugs (Psalms 75:9; Proverbs 9:23, 30; Isaiah 5:22). A species of delicacy seems to have been furnished by "spiced wines," that is, wines flavored by aromatic herbs, or perhaps simply by the juice of the pomegranate (Song of Solomon 8:2). No mention is made in Scripture of the mixing of water with wine for the purpose of drinking it; the reference in Isaiah 1:22 being to the adulteration of wine by fraudulent dealers; but the habit was so common in ancient times (comp. Odyss. 1:110; 9:208 sq.; Hippocrates, De Morb. 3:30; Lucian, Asin. 7; Plin. H. Nat. 23:22) that we can hardly doubt that it was known also among the Hebrews. (See WINE). Vinegar, חֹמֶוֹ, was also used by them as a means of quenching thirst (Ruth 2:14; Numbers 6:3); mixed with oil, this is still a favorite in the East, and mixed with water, it was drunk by the Roman soldiers and poor under the name of posca (Pliny, H. Nat. 19:29; 22:58; Plautus, Mil. Glor. 3:2, 23). (See DRINK).
The Hebrews made use of condiments to heighten the flavor of their dishes, as well as of spices to increase the effect of their wines. Besides the general condiment salt, they used cumin, dill, mint, coriander, rue, mustard, and the seeds of an herb to which they gave the name of קֶצִח, "fitches." Sometimes their made dishes were so richly flavored that the nature of the meat used could not be discovered (Genesis 27:9; Genesis 27:25). Besides myrrh, with which they flavored their wines, the Hebrews used various odoriferous products; but whether they used any of these with food is uncertain. (See AROMATICS).
II. Methods of Preparation. The early acquaintance of the race with the use of fire renders it probable that from the beginning men used some process of cooking in the preparation of their food, except in the case of such products as are more agreeable to the palate in a crude than in a concocted state. The cereals were sometimes eaten raw (Leviticus 23:14; Deuteronomy 23:25; 2 Kings 4:42; Matthew 12:1); but from an early period it was customary to roast the grains, and so prepare them for food (Leviticus 2:14; comp. Robinson, Bib. Res. 2:394). This received the name of קָלַי (more fully אָבַיב קָלוּי בָאֵשׁ ) and קָלִיא A.V. "parched corn;" and was eaten either dry or formed into a sort of porridge, perhaps something after the manner of the pilaw in the East at the present day. This was not peculiar to the Hebrews; even as late as the time of Virgil roasting was a recognised method of preparing corn for use (Georg. 1:267), though this may have been only preparatory to bruising it (comp. Servius on AEn. 1:179; Pliny, H.N. 18:18, 23). For the preparation and kinds of bread in use among the Hebrews, (See BREAD AND MILL).
Vegetables were cooked by boiling, and seem to have been made into a pottage (נָזַיד, the Niph. part. of זוּד, to boil, Genesis 25:30; Genesis 25:34; 2 Kings 4:38-39), probably strengthened by the addition of some oily substance, such as butter or fat, or by having bones and gristles boiled down with them, as is still customary in the East (Shaw, Travels, page 125, cited by Jahn, Archaol. I, 2:190).
When animal food was to be used, the animal was killed in such a way as to allow all the blood to leave the carcase, in order scrupulously to observe the prohibition, Exodus 22:31. Among the modern Jews, this is accomplished by cutting the throat of the animal quite through, and then suspending the carcase so as to allow all the blood to run out. the entrails with the fat are removed, the nerves and veins extracted, and strict search is made lest any drop of blood should. be allowed to remain in any. part (Buxtorf, Syn. Jud. chapter 27). The flesh, thus prepared for cooking, was commonly boiled in water (בַּשֵּׁלִ, Piel of בָּשִׁל ) probably also sometimes in milk, as is still the case among the Arabs. Before being put into the pot, thee flesh, freed from the skin, appears to have been cut into small pieces, or, perhaps this was done during the process of cooking (Micah 3:3; comp. Hitzig, ad loc.). The broth and the flesh were served up separately (Judges 6:1), and both were eaten with bread. Salt was used to season the food; spices were also occasionally introduced, and highly flavored dishes were sometimes prepared (Ezekiel 24:10; Genesis 27:4; Proverbs 23:3). For boiling, the pot or caldron was used; and the fuel was commonly wood, especially thorns (Ecclesiastes 7:6; Psalms 58:9; Isaiah 44:16; Ezekiel 24:10), sometimes the dried excrement of animals (Ezekiel 4:15), a species of fuel still much used in the East (Irby sand Mangles's Travels, page 172; Rae Wilson's Travels, 2:156; Huc's Travels, passim). Food was also prepared by roasting (צָלָה ). This was regarded as the more luxurious mode of preparation, and was resorted to chiefly on festive occasions. The paschal lamb was to be roasted whole (Exodus 12:4; Exodus 12:6), but it does not appear that this was the. usual method of roasting flesh; it is more probable that the ancient Hebrews, like the modern Arabs, roasted their meat in small portions by means of short spits of wood or metal placed near the fire, and turned as the process of cooking required (comp. Odyss. 3:461-2, etc.; 1:465, etc.). Birds were roasted whole on such a spit. The Persians roast lambs and calves entire by placing them in an oven (Tavernier, 1:269; Chardin, 3:88), and this may also have. prevailed among thee Hebrews. Among the poor, locusts were eaten roasted, as is still common among the Arabs, whose method of cooking them is as follows: the feet and wings having been plucked off, and the entrails taken out, the body is salted, and then roasted by means of a wooden spit, on which a row of bodies similarly prepared are strung. Fish were usually broiled (Luke 24:42; John 21:9), but it would seem that they were sometimes cured, or at least brought into a state in which they could be used without farther cooking (Matthew 14:17; Matthew 14:19; Matthew 15:34; Matthew 15:36). In either case they were eaten with bread.
In primitive times the mistress of the house presided over the cooking of the food, as the master of the house charged himself with the slaughtering of the animals required (Genesis 18:6; Genesis 18:8; Judges 6:19; comp. Il. 24:622, and Odyss. 2:300). Among the Egyptians, servants who were professional cooks took charge of preparing the food (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 2:382 sq.); and in later times among the Hebrews similar functionaries were employed, both male and female (טִבָּח, 1 Samuel 9:23-24; טִבָּחָה, 1 Samuel 8:13). The culinary utensils were פָרוּר a deep pan (Numbers 11:8; Judges 6:19; 1 Samuel 11, 14); קִלִּחִת; סַיר; דּוּד; [CALDRON (See CALDRON) ]; כַּיּוֹר a basin or pan (Exodus 30:18; 1 Samuel 2:14; by); סֵפֶל; צֵלָחָה; סִ; מִהֲבִת, an iron pan; מִרְחֶשֶׁת a frying-pan (Leviticus 2:5-7; Leviticus 7:9); חֲבַתַּים, pans (1 Chronicles 9:31); מִזְלֵג, a fork or flesh-hook with which flesh was drawn from the pot (1 Samuel 2:13-14), and perhaps the flesh separated from the bones in the pot (Micah 3:3); כַּירִיַם a word of doubtful significancy, rendered by the Sep χυτρόποδες (Leviticus 11:34), by the Syr. place of pots, by Gesenius range jar pots, by Furst hearth for cooking, consisting of two rows of stones meeting at an angle, by Rosenmuller a place in the hearth under which was fire, and on the surface of which were, orifices, over which pots were placed, and by Knobel an earthenware stew-pan (Ravius, De re cabana vet. Heb. Traj. ad Rhen. 1768; Pareau, Antiq. Hebr. p. 388 sq.; Jahn, Archalolgie, 1, 2:167 sq.; Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, 2, chapter 57). (See COOK).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Food'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​f/food.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.