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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(represented by several Heb. and Gr. words, which are variously rendered in the A.V.) the necessary act of taking food was, at a very early period of the world's history, connected immediately with religion. Thus the paschal lamb and the unleavened bread spoke in pleasing tones and by striking emblems, to each successive generation, of the great historical fact of which they were designed to be the perpetual memento. In like manner the Lord's supper (1 Corinthians 11:20), the breaking of bread from house to house (Acts 2:46), and the ἀγάπαι, or love-feasts-feasts of charity (Judges 1:12) were all, especially the first, both wisely designed and admirably fitted to bring into play, in connection with religion, the better feelings of humanity, to maintain in everlasting remembrance the events which they symbolized, to make eating and drinking an act of religion, and to make religion a pleasure. (See AGAPE); (See PASSOVER); (See SUPPER).

1. The productions of a country, at an early period of the world, necessarily determined its food. Palestine abounded with grain and various kinds of vegetables, as well as with animals of different species. Such, accordingly, in general, was the sustenance, which its inhabitants took. (See CEREALS).

The use of fire, and the state of the arts of life in a country, must also have important influence on its cookery; in other words, will go far to determine the state in which the natural productions of the earth will be eaten. If the grain is to become bread, a long, and by no means easy, process has to be gone through. Skill in preparing food is therefore held in high repute; so that, as in Homer, princes slay the cattle, and poetry details the process by which the carcass is made ready for being eaten (Iliad, 1, 457). (See COOK).

Bread formed "the staff of life" to the ancient Hebrews even more than to ourselves; but the modes of preparing it have been noticed under other heads. (See BREAD); (See MILL).

On a remarkable occasion a calf, tender and good, was taken slain, dressed (roasted, most probably [Genesis 27:7; Exodus 12:8-9; Judges 6:19; 1 Samuel 2:13]; boiling was not known till long afterwards), and set before the guests, while the entertainer (Abraham) respectfully stood at their side, doubtless to render any desirable service. The sauce or accompaniments on this occasion were butter and milk. From Genesis 19:3 it may be inferred that the bread was unleavened. (See BUTTER); (See MILK).

The cases, however, to which reference has been made were of a special nature; and from them, as well as from what is recorded touching Isaac and Esau and Jacob, it appears that flesh meat was reserved as food for guests or as a dainty for the sick; lentils, pulse, onions, grain, honey, and milk being the ordinary fare. (See MEAT).

The agreeable, and perhaps in part the salubrious, qualities of salt were very early known and recognised. In Leviticus 2:13, it is expressly enjoined, "Every oblation of thy meat-offering shalt thou season with salt; with all thine offerings shalt thou offer salt." (See SALT).

Locusts were a permitted (Leviticus 11:22) and a very common food. At the present day they are gathered by the Bedawin in the beginning of April, and, being roasted on plates of iron or dried in the sun, are kept in large bags, and, when needed, eaten, strewed with salt by handfuls. See Locust.

Of four-footed animals and birds, the favorite food were sheep, goats, oxen, and doves. There are few traces of the eating of fish, at least in Palestine (Leviticus 11:9-22; Numbers 11:5). In the first passage a distinction is made between certain fish which might be eaten and others which were forbidden. "These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat; and all that have not fins and scales, they shall be an abomination unto you." (See CATTLE); (See FISH).

The distinction of clean and unclean animals, and of animals which might and those which might not be eaten, is found to have existed to a great extent in ancient Egypt. See Spencer, Leg. Rit. 1, 5; Danz, in. Meuschen, IV. T. Talm. p. 795; Maimonides, De Cibis Vetitis, ed. Wildicke (Lips. 1734); Reinhardt, De Cibis Hebraeoi. (Viteb. 1697). The Mosaic laws which regulated the use of animal food may be found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. The grounds of many of these regulations may be ascertained with a greater or less degree of probability, provided the student is well acquainted with the mind and spirit of Hebrew antiquity. Considerations drawn from idolatrous usages, regard to health, the furtherance of agriculture, and established customs and tastes, had in each case an influence in the promulgation of these laws. (See CLEAN).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Victuals'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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