There was an early fig ("bikkurah")
and a late fig ("te'enim"),
the latter being generally dried
and pressed into round or square
cakes ("debelah"). Grapes
anabim")were eaten either
fresh, or dried as raisins ("zimmukim");
they were also pressed into cakes
(I Sam. xxv. 18). It is doubtful
whether the Israelites knew grape-sirup,
though the fact that the Arabic
to the Hebrew "debash,"
is used to designate both the
natural and this artificial honey
or sirup, shows that they probably
knew the latter (Gen. xliii. 11;
Ezek. xxvii. 17). Olives ("zayit")
were probably eaten, as to-day,
both raw and prepared. Mention
may also be made of the pomegranate
("rimmon"; Deut. viii.
8; Song of Songs iv. 3); the fruit
of the mulberry fig-tree ("shi?mah")
eaten by the poor, and of the
which is treated like figs and
grapes; and, finally, pistachio-nuts
("shekedim"), and walnuts
("egoz"). The fruit
of the carob was used, while not
quite ripe, for flavoring water,
though it was not a food proper.
The Israelites may have known
apples, although the word "tappua?"
is of doubtful signification (see
The spices used by the Israelites
include cumin ("kammon"),
dill ("kezah"), mint,
and mustard. Salt ("melah"),
of course, was very important
even in early times. To "eat
the salt" of a person was
equivalent to eating his bread
(comp. Ezra iv. 14); a covenant
of salt was inviolable (comp.
Num. xviii. 19; II Chron. xiii.
ancient times, as to-day, much
less meat was eaten in the East
than among Western peoples. It
was served daily only at the king's
table (I Kings v. 3), and there
because sacrifices were offered
every day. Otherwise, animals
were probably slaughtered only
for the great festivals ("?aggim"),
at the yearly sacrificial feasts
of families and tribes, at family
festivals (such as circumcisions
and weddings), for guests, etc.
(comp. Gen. xviii. 7; II Sam.
xii. 4). Furthermore, only certain
kinds of animals were permissible
as food, the restrictions dating
back to very early times. For
details see Dietary
The most important animals for
food were cattle, sheep, and goats,
sheep ranking first (comp. I Sam.
xxv. 11, 18; II Sam. xii. 4; Amos
vi. 4; Isa. liii. 7). In addition
to lambs ("karim"; Amos
vi. 4), fatted calves ("meri'im")
are often mentioned (Isa. i. 11;
Amos v. 22; I Kings i. 19, 25),
especially those that were fatted
in the stall, as distinguished
from cattle in the pasture ("'egel
marbe?"; Amos vi. 4; Jer.
xlvi. 1; Mal. iv. 2). From early
times the eating of meat was allowed
on condition that the blood of
the slaughtered animal be taken
to the altar, the meat not being
eaten with the blood (comp. I
Sam. xiv. 33 et seq.); thus every
slaughtering became in a certain
sense a sacrifice, this being
changed only when the worship
was centralized by the Deuteronomic
legislation. Meat was generally
boiled (Ex. xxiii. 19; Judges
vi. 19; I Sam. ii. 13; Ezek. xxiv.
3, xlvi. 20), though sometimes
it was roasted, usually, perhaps,
on the spit (I Sam. ii. 15; Ex.
xii. 8). Game was considered as
a delicacy (Gen. xxvii. 7).
Milk, of large as well as of small
animals, especially goat's milk,
was a staple food (Deut. xxxii.
14; Prov. xxvii. 27). It was kept
in skins (Judges iv. 19). "?em'ah,"
designating cream as well as bonnyclabber
and cheese, is often mentioned
(Prov. xxx. 33). Cream is generally
called "shefot" (II
Sam. xvii. 29), though this reading
is uncertain. It was frequently
offered as a present, carried
in cylindrical wooden vessels;
and, sprinkled with sugar, it
was eaten out of little dishes
with wooden spoons (comp. Riehm,
pp. 1715 et seq.). Cheese made
of sweet milk was probably also
used ("?ari?e he-?alab";
I Sam. xvii. 18, this passage
in any case showing that "?alab"
designated curdled as well as
ordinary milk). The proper designation
for cheese is "gebinah"
(Job x. 10).
("debash") is frequently
mentioned in connection with milk,
and is probably the ordinary bee's
honey; that flowing of itself
out of the honeycomb ("nofet
ha-?ufim") was especially
relished (Ps. xix. 11; Prov. xvi.
24). According to Isa. vii. 15,
honey seems to have been a favorite
food of children.
Little is known of fish as food
(Num. xi. 15), it being mentioned
but rarely (Jer. xvi. 16; Ezek.
xlvii. 10; Eccl. ix. 12). Yet
there can be no doubt that it
was a favorite diet. Fish were
fried, and prepared with honeycomb.
They were probably more generally
eaten in post-exilic times. The
fish-market, where fish, salted
or dried in the sun, were sold,
was probably near the fish-gate
(compare Zeph. i. 10; Neh. iii.
3, xii. 39; II Chron. xxxiii.
14). According to Neh. xiii. 16,
fish were imported by Syrian merchants,
some fish coming from Egypt, where
pickled roe was an export article.
In later times fish were salted
even in Palestine (comp. the name
"Tarichea," lit. "pickling").
anything is known of the price
of food in ancient times. At the
period of the composition of II
Kings vii. 1, 16, the worth of
one seah of fineflour or two seahs
of barley was one shekel. In Men.
xiii. 8 the price of an ox, a
calf, a ram, and a lamb is given
as 100, 20, 8, and 4 denarii respectively
(comp. Matt. x. 29).E. G. H. W.
a few of the many data in the
Talmud that throw a clear light
on the private life of the Jews
can be mentioned here. Bread was
the principal food; and as in
the Bible the meal is designated
by the simple term "to eat
bread," so the rabbinical
law ordains that the blessing
pronounced upon bread covers everything
else except wine and dessert.
Bread was made not only from wheat,
but also from rice, millet, and
lentils ('Er. 81a). Bread with
milk was greatly relished. The
inhabitants of Ma?uza in Babylon
ate warm bread every day (compare
Shab. 109a). Morning bread that
was eaten with salt is mentioned
(B. M. 107b; compare Ab. vi. 4).
Wheat bread makes a clear head,
ready for study (Hor. 13b). The
same result is obtained, according
to another reading, from bread
baked over coals (ib.). Bread bakers
are often mentioned, rabbis also
following that trade.
was eaten only on special occasions,
on Sabbaths and at feasts. The
pious kept fine cattle for the
Sabbath (Be?ah 16a); but various
other kinds of dishes, relishes,
and spices were also on the table
(Shab. 119a). A three-year-old
calf with its kidneys was considered
excellent (ib. 119b). Nor were
the tongues of animals despised
(Yalk Makiri to Prov. xviii.
21). Deer, also, furnished meat
(Bek. iv. 29b; Hul. 59a), as did
pheasants (Tosef., Kil. i. 8),
chickens (Shab. 145b), and pigeons
(Pes. 119b). Fish was eaten on
Friday evening in honor of the
Sabbath (compare Grünbaum,
zur Sprachund Sagenkunde,"
p. 232); sometimes it was prepared
in milk (Hul. 111b). Pickled fish
was an important article of commerce,
being called "garum"
among the Jews, as among the Greeks
and Romans. Pliny ("Hist.
Naturalis," xxxi. 95) says
expressly of a "garum castimoniale"
(i.e., kasher garum) that it was
prepared according to Jewish law.
Locusts were eaten, though without
blessing, as they signified a
curse. Eggs were so commonly eaten
that the quantity of an egg was
used halakicly as a measure. The
egg was broken (?. Y. iii. 2)
and occasionally dipped in wine
(Hul. 6a). The unsalted yolk of
an egg eaten on ten successive
days causes death ("Alphabeta
di-Ben Sira," ed. Steinschneider,
p. 22b). A regular meal consisted
of chicken stuffed with meal,
fine bread, fat meat, and old
wine (ib. 17b). The Talmudic axiom,
"Without meat there is no
pleasure; hence meat is indispensable
on feastdays," is well known.
regards other dishes, the Jews
were acquainted with most of those
known in antiquity. The first
dish was an entrée—something
pickled, to stimulate the appetite
(Ber. vi. 7); this was followed
by the meal proper, which was
ended with a dessert, called in
Greek ?????µa. Afi?omen
is used in the same sense. Titbits
("parperet") were eaten
before as well as after the meal
(Ber. vi. 6). Wine was an important
item. It was flavored with myrrh
(compare Mark xv. 23) or with
honey and pepper, the mixture
being called "conditum."
There were vinegar wine ('Ab.
Zarah 30a), wine from Amanus,
and Cilicia (Tosef., Sheb. v.
223), red wine from Saron, Ethiopian
wine (B. ?. 97b), and black wine
(Abba Gorion i. 9). Wine in ice
came from Lebanon. Certain wines
are good for the stomach; others
are not (Yer. Shek. 48d; see Wine).
There was Median beer as well
as a beer from Egypt called "zythos"
(Pes. iii. 1), and beer made from
a thorn (Spina regia; Löw,
p. 231; Ket. 77b). To eat without
drinking means suicide (Shab.
was always relished, and many
kinds, Biblical as well as non-Biblical,
are often mentioned. A certain
kind of hard nut even the wealthy
could not procure (Pesi?. 59b).
The custom of eating apples on
the Feast of Weeks (Targ. Sheni
to Esth. iii. 8) belongs to those
minute observances that are so
numerous in Jewish life. In the
same way fruit and herbs were
eaten on New-Year's eve as a good
omen (Hor. 12a). Children received
especially on the evening of Passover
nuts and roasted ears of corn
(B. M. iv. 12; Pes. 119b). Olives
were so common that they were
used as a measure ("zayit").
"While olives produce forgetfulness
of what one has learned, olive-oil
makes a clear head" (Hor.
13b). "Bread for young men,
oil for old people, and honey
for children" (Yoma 75b).
occupied a chief place on the
evening of Passover, and they
were also a favorite dish on the
Sabbath (Ta'an. 20b), being eaten
either dry or soaked (Tosef.,
Sheb. iv. 6). Many vegetables
were included in the comprehensive
name "?i?niyyot" (Be?ah
12b; compare 'U?. i. 5), especially
beans. Other vegetables were cucumbers,
melons, cabbages, turnips, lettuces,
radishes, onions, and garlic.
The smell of garlic, frequently
mentioned in later times in association
with the Jews, is referred to
in the Talmud (Sanh. 11a).
as well as Biblical times give
evidence of a healthy, happy view
of life. Sweets eaten during meals
are frequently mentioned (B. M.
vii. 1; Esth. R. i. 9). There
is a saying of Rab (Abba Arika)
that a time will come when one
will have to render an account
for all that one has seen and
not eaten (Yer. ?id. 66d). It
is said, however, of Abba Arika
that, after having had all the
precious things of life, he finally
ate earth. Eliezer b. Hyrcanus
is also reported to have eaten
earth (compare the "geophagi"
[earth-eaters] of the ancient
authors). There is hardly any
difference in food between Palestine
and Babylon; only some details
referring to the ritual are mentioned
(Müller, "?illuf Minhagim,"
Nos. 19, 67).
the Middle Ages:
Jews were so widely scattered
in the Middle Ages that it is
difficult to give a connected
account of their mode of living
as regards food. In Arabic countries
the author of the Halakot Gedolot
knew some dishes that appear to
have been peculiar to the Jews,
e.g., "paspag" (p. 60,
ed. Hildesheimer), which was,
perhaps, biscuit; according to
the Siddur Amram (i. 38), the
is made in those countries from
a mixture of herbs, flour, and
Maimonides, in his "Sefer
Refu'ot" (ed. Goldberg, London,
1900), mentions dishes that are
good for health. He recommends
bread baked from wheat that is
not too new, nor too old, nor
too fine (p. 8); further, the
meat of the kid, sheep, and chicken,
and the yolks of eggs. Goats'
and cows' milk is good, nor are
cheese and butter harmful. Honey
is good for old people; fish with
white, hard meat is wholesome;
so also are wine and dried fruits.
Fresh fruits, however, are unwholesome;
and he does not recommend garlic
or onions (p. 9).
is detailed information about
Italian cookery in the amusing
little book "Masseket Purim."
It discusses (according to Abrahams,
"Jewish Life in the Middle
Ages," p. 151) pies, chestnuts,
turtledoves, pancakes, small tarts,
gingerbread, ragouts, venison,
roast goose, chicken, stuffed
pigeons, ducks, pheasants, partridges,
quails, macaroons, and salad.
These are dishes of luxurious
living. The oppressed medieval
Jews fared poorly rather than
sumptuously, indulging in joyous
feasts only on Sabbaths, festivals,
circumcisions, and weddings. For
example, the Jews of Rhodes, according
to a letter of Obadiah Bertinoro,
1488, lived on herbs and vegetables
only, never tasting meat or wine
("Jahrb. für die Gesch.
der Juden," iii. 201). In
Egypt, however, meat, fish, and
cheese were procurable (ib. 208);
in Gaza, grapes, fruit, and wine
(ib. 211). Cold dishes are still
relished in the East. Generally,
only one dish was eaten, with
fresh bread daily (Jacob Safir,
in "Eben Sappir," p.
58a, Lyck, 1866).
characteristically Jewish dishes
are frequently mentioned in the
Judæo-German dialect: from
the twelfth century onward, "brätzel"
(Glassberg, "Zikron Berit,"
p. 122, Berlin, 1892); "lokshen"
(Abrahams, l.c. p. 152); "pasteten"
(ib. p. 151; compare Yoreh De'ah,
Bet Yosef, § 97); "fladen"
(Yoreh De'ah, ib.); "beleg"
(i.e., goose sandwich), still
used (Yoreh De'ah, Ture Zahab,
§ 101, 11). The favorite
"barscht" or "borshtsh"
soup is a Polish dish (ib. §
96); best known are the "berkes"
or "barches" eaten on
the Sabbath (Grünbaum, l.c.
p. 229), and "shalet"
(Abrahams, l.c. p. 151), which
Heine commemorates ("Werke,"
i. 436), and which the Spanish
Jews called Ani.
The Sabbath pudding ("kigl"
or "kugel" in Yiddish)
is also well known. For more detailed
information on several of these
dishes see Cookery.
Krauss, Lehnwörter, ii. 640,
s.v. Mahlzeiten, Speisen, and
Wiener, Die Jüdischen Speisegesetze,
Breslau, 1895. For the Middle
Ages: Güdemann, Gesch. des
Erziehungswesens . . . bei den
Juden, iii. 112, and passim;
Berliner, Aus dem Inneren Leben
der Juden in Deutschland, v.,
Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle
Ages, ch. viii., London, 1896;
several documents of Prague regulating
the high living of the Jews in
the eighteenth century are given
in Neuzeit, 1891, No. 47, p.