5 occurrences in 5 dictionaries

Reference: Food


In ancient the food of a people was more entirely the product of their own country than in our day. Palestine was favored with an abundance of animal food, grain, and vegetables. But throughout the East, vegetable food is more used than animal. Bread was the principal food. Grain of various kinds, beans, lentils, onions, grapes, together with olive oil, honey, and the milk of goats and cows were the ordinary fare. The wandering Arabs live much upon a coarse black bread. A very common dish in Syria is rice, with shreds of meat, vegetables, olive oil, etc., intermixed. A similar dish, made with beans, lentils, and various kinds of pulse, was in frequent use at an earlier age, Ge 25:29-34; 2Ki 4:1-38.

Fish was a common article of food, when accessible, and was very much used in Egypt. This country was also famous for cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlics, Nu 11:5. Such is the food of the Egyptians still. See EATING.

Animal food was always used on festive occasions; and the hospitable patriarchs lost little time in preparing for their guests a smoking dish from their flocks of sheep and goats, their herds of cattle, or their dove cotes, Ge 18:7; Lu 15:23. The rich had animal food more frequently, and their cattle were stalled and fattened for the table, 1Sa 16:20; Isa 1:11; 11:6; Mal 4:2. Among the poor, locusts were a common means of sustenance, being dried in the sun, or roasted over the fire on iron plates.

Water was the earliest and common drink. Wine of an intoxicating quality was early known, Ge 9:20; 14:18; 40:1. Date wine and similar beverages were common; and the common people used a kind of sour wine, called vinegar in Ru 2:14; Mt 27:48.

See Verses Found in Dictionary


Originally the Creator granted the use of the vegetable world for food to man (Ge 1:29), with the exception mentioned (Ge 2:17). The use of animal food was probably not unknown to the antediluvians. There is, however, a distinct law on the subject given to Noah after the Deluge (Ge 9:2-5). Various articles of food used in the patriarchal age are mentioned in Ge 18:6-8; 25:34; 27:3-4; 43:11. Regarding the food of the Israelites in Egypt, see Ex 16:3; Nu 11:5. In the wilderness their ordinary food was miraculously supplied in the manna. They had also quails (Ex 16:11-13; Nu 11:31).

In the law of Moses there are special regulations as to the animals to be used for food (Le 11; De 14:3-21). The Jews were also forbidden to use as food anything that had been consecrated to idols (Ex 34:15), or animals that had died of disease or had been torn by wild beasts (Ex 22:31; Le 22:8). (See also for other restrictions Ex 23:19; 29:13-22; Le 3:4-9; 9:18-19; 22:8; De 14:21.) But beyond these restrictions they had a large grant from God (De 14:26; 32:13-14).

Food was prepared for use in various ways. The cereals were sometimes eaten without any preparation (Le 23:14; De 23:25; 2Ki 4:42). Vegetables were cooked by boiling (Ge 25:30,34; 2Ki 4:38-39), and thus also other articles of food were prepared for use (Ge 27:4; Pr 23:3; Eze 24:10; Lu 24:42; Joh 21:9). Food was also prepared by roasting (Ex 12:8; Le 2:14). (See Cook.)

See Verses Found in Dictionary


Herbs and fruits were man's permitted food at first (Ge 1:29). The early race lived in a warm and genial climate, where animal food was not a necessity. Even now many eastern nations live healthily on a vegetable diet. Not until after the flood (Ge 9:3) sheep and cattle, previously kept for their milk and wool, and for slaying in sacrifice, from whence the distinction of "clean and unclean" (Ge 7:2) is noticed before the flood, were permitted to be eaten. (See ABEL.) The godless and violent antediluvians probably had anticipated this permission. Now it is given accompanied by a prohibition against eating flesh with the blood, which is the life, left in it. The cutting of flesh, with the blood, from the living animal (as has been practiced in Africa), and the eating of blood either apart from or in the flesh, were prohibited, because "the soul (nephesh) of the flesh is in the blood, and I (Jehovah) have ordained it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood which makes atonement by means of the soul" (Le 17:11-12).

The two grounds for forbidding blood as food thus are, firstly, its being the vital fluid; secondly, its significant use in sacrifice. The slaughtering was to be (1) as expeditious as possible, (2) with the least possible infliction of suffering, and (3) causing the blood to flow out in the quickest and most complete manner. Harvey says:" the blood is the fountain of life, the first to live, the last to die, and the primary seat of the animal soul; it lives and is nourished of itself, and by no other part of the human body." John Hunter inferred it is the seat of life, for all parts of the frame are formed and nourished from it. Milne Edwards says: "if an animal be bled until it falls into syncope, muscular action ceases, respiration and the heart's action are suspended; but if the blood of an animal of the same kind be injected into the veins the inanimate body returns to life, breathes freely, and recovers completely" (Speaker's Commentary, Leviticus 17, note).

In the first Christian churches, where Jew and Gentile were united, in order to avoid offending Jewish prejudice in things indifferent the council at Jerusalem (Ac 15:29) ordained abstinence "from things strangled (wherein the blood would remain), and from blood." Moreover, the pagan consumed blood in their sacrifices, in contrast to Jehovah's law, which would make His people the more shrink from any seeing conformity to their ways. Fat when unmixed with lean was also forbidden food, being consecrated to Him. (See FAT.) Christians were directed to abstain also from animal flesh of which a part had been offered to idols (15/29'>Ac 15:29; 1/25'>21:25,1 Corinthians 8). The portions of the victim not offered on the altar belonged partly to the priests, and partly to the offerers. They were eaten at feasts, not only in the temples but also in private houses, and were often sold in the markets, so that the temptation to Christians was continually recurring (Nu 25:2; Ps 106:28).

The food of the Israelites and Egyptians was more of a vegetable than animal kind. Flesh meat was brought forth on special occasions, as sacrificial and hospitable feasts (Ge 18:7; 43:16; Ex 16:3; Nu 11:4-5; 1Ki 1:9; 4:23; Mt 22:4). Their ordinary diet contained a larger proportion of farinaceous and leguminous foods, with honey, butter, and cheese, than of animal (2Sa 17:28-29). Still an entirely vegetable diet was deemed a poor one (Pr 15:17; Da 1:12). Some kinds of locusts were eaten by the poor, and formed part of John the Baptist's simple diet (Mt 3:4; Le 11:22). Condiments, as salt, mustard, anise, rue, cummin, almonds, were much used (Isa 28:25, etc.; Mt 23:23). The killing of a calf or sheep for a guest is as simple and expeditions in Modern Syria as it was in Abraham's days.

Bread, dibs (thickened grape juice) (possibly meant in Ge 43:11; Eze 27:17, honey dibash), coagulated sour milk, leban, butter, rice, and a little mutton, are the food in winter; cheese and fruits are added in summer. The meat is cut up in little bits, and the company eat it without knives and forks out of basohs. Parched grain, roasted in a pan over the fire, was an ordinary diet, of laborers (Le 2:14; 23:14; Ru 2:14). Sour wine ("vinegar") was used to dip the bread in; or else the gravy, broth, or melted fat of flesh meat; this illustrates the "dipping the sop in the common dish" (Joh 13:26, etc.). Pressed dry grape cakes and fig cakes were an article of ordinary consumption. (See FLAGON.) (1Sa 30:12). Fruit cake dissolved in water affords a refreshing drink. Lettuces of a wild kind, according to Septuagint, were the "bitter herbs" eaten with the Passover lamb (Ex 12:8).

Retem, or "bitter root of the broom", was eaten by the poor. Job 30:4, "juniper," rather "broom"; Job 6:6, for "egg" Gesenius translated "an insipid potherb," possibly purslane. "Butter (curdled milk, the acid of which is grateful in the hot East) and honey" are more fluid in the East than with us, and are poured out of jars. Job 20:17, "brooks of honey and butter." These were the ordinary food of children; Isa 7:15, so of the prophet's child who typified Immanuel; the distress caused by the Syrian and Israelite kings not preventing the supply of spontaneously produced foods, the only abundant articles of diet then. Oil was chiefly used on festive occasions (1Ch 12:40).

The prohibition "thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk" (Ex 23:19) is thought by Abarbauel to forbid a pagan harvest superstition designed to propitiate the gods; to which a Karaite Jew, quoted by Cudworth (Speaker's Commentary), adds, it was usual when the crops were gathered in to sprinkle the fruit trees, fields, and gardens as a charm. In Exodus the previous context referring to Passover and Pentecost favors this reference to a usage at the feast of tabernacles or ingathering of fruits. In De 14:21 the context suggests an additional reason for the prohibition, namely, that Israel as being "holy unto the Lord" should not eat any food inconsistent with that consecration, for instance what "dieth of itself," or a kid cooked in its mother's milk, as indicating contempt of the natural relation which God sanctified between parent and offspring. Compare the same principle Le 22:28; De 22:6.

Arabs still cook lamb in sour milk to improve the flavor. Kid was a favorite food (Ge 27:9,14; Jg 6:19; 13:15; 1Sa 16:20). Fish was the usual food in our Lord's time about the sea of Galilee (Mt 7:10; Joh 6:9; 21:9, etc.).

See Verses Found in Dictionary


This article will deal only with food-stuffs, in other words, with the principal articles of food among the Hebrews in Bible times, the preparation and serving of these being reserved for the complementary article Meals.

1. The food of a typical Hebrew household in historical times was almost exclusively vegetarian. For all but the very rich the use of meat was confined to some special occasion,

See Verses Found in Dictionary



The diet of eastern nations has been in all ages light and simple. Vegetable food was more used than animal. The Hebrews used a great variety of articles,

Joh 21:5

to give a relish to bread. Milk and its preparations hold a conspicuous place in eastern diet, as affording substantial nourishment; generally int he form of the modern leben, i.e. sour milk. Authorized Version "butter;"

Ge 18:8; Jg 5:25; 2Sa 17:29

Fruit was another source of subsistence: figs stood first in point of importance; they were generally dried and pressed into cakes. Grapes were generally 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.

Nu 11:5

Honey is extensively used, as is also olive oil. The Orientals have been at all times sparing in the use of animal food; not only does the extensive head of the climate render it both unwholesome to eat much meat and expensive from the necessity of immediately consuming a whole animal, but beyond this the ritual regulations of the Mosaic law in ancient, as of the Koran in modern, times have tended to the same result. The prohibition expressed against consuming the blood of any animal,

Ge 9:4

was more fully developed in the Levitical law, and enforced by the penalty of death.

Le 3:17; 7:26; 19:26; De 12:16

Certain portions of the fat of sacrifices were also forbidden,

Le 3:9-10

as being set apart for the altar,

Le 3:16; 7:25

In addition to the above, Christians were forbidden to eat the flesh of animals portions of which had been offered to idols. All beasts and birds classed as unclean,

Le 11:1

ff.; Deut 14:4 ff., were also prohibited. Under these restrictions the Hebrews were permitted the free use of animal food: generally speaking they only availed themselves of it in the exercise of hospitality or at festivals of a religious, public or private character. It was only in royal households that there was a daily consumption of meat. The animals killed for meat were --calves, lambs, oxen not above three years of age, harts, roebucks and fallow deer; 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,

Mt 3:4

but were regarded as poor fare.

See Verses Found in Dictionary