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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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This word occurs twice in Scripture. The first occasion is in 2 Samuel 17:28, where beans are described as being brought to David, as well as wheat, barley, lentils, etc. as is the custom at the present day in many parts of the East when a traveler arrives at a village. So in Ezekiel 4:9, the prophet is directed to take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, etc. and make bread thereof. The common beans, or at least one of its varieties, has been employed as an article of diet from the most ancient times. Beans were employed as articles of diet by the ancients, as they are by the moderns; and are considered to give rise to flatulence, but otherwise to be wholesome and nutritious. They are cultivated over a great part of the old world, from the north of Europe to the south of India in the latter, however, forming the cold weather cultivation, with wheat, peas, etc. They are extensively cultivated in Egypt and Arabia. Dr. Kitto states that the extent of their cultivation in Palestine he had no means of knowing. In Egypt they are sown in November, and reaped in the middle of February (three and a half months in the ground); but in Syria they may be had throughout the spring. The stalks are cut down with the scythe, and these are afterwards cut and crushed, to fit them for the food of camels, oxen, and goats. The beans themselves, when sent to a market, are often deprived of their skins. Basnage reports it as the sentiment of some of the Rabbins, that beans were not lawful to the priests, on account of their being considered the appropriate food of mourning and affliction: but he does not refer to the authority; and neither in the sacred books nor in the Mishna can be found any traces of the notion to which he alludes. So far from attaching any sort of impurity to this legume, it is described as among the first-fruit offerings; and several other articles in the latter collection prove that the Hebrews had beans largely in use, after they had passed them through the mill.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Beans'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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