By : Emil G. Hirsch Kaufmann Kohler
Preparation of Bread
Figurative Use of "Bread
Blessing of the Daily Bread
Treatment of Bread
Preparation of Bread.
Bread was the principal article
of food among the Hebrews, while
meat, vegetables, or liquids
served only to supplement the
meal (Gen. xxv. 34, xxvii. 17;
Ruth ii. 14; I Sam. xxviii. 24;
Gen. xviii. 7). Originally the
ears of barley or wheat were
simply roasted, and this
primitive custom of using "kali" (parched corn,
Ruth ii. 14; I Sam. xvii. 17)
was retained for the offering
of the firstlings (Lev. ii. 14,
xxiii. 14; Josh. v. 11). The primitive
bread of the Hebrew, as with all
Bedouins, was unleavened and was
called "Matzos." (unleavened
cakes, Judges vi. 29; Gen. xix.
3); hence it was retained for
the ancient Passover ritual as
"the bread of affliction"
(Deut. xvi. 3). The ordinary bread
consisted of dough ("bazek")
mixed with fermented dough ("se'or"),
which raised the mass into "hamez"
(soured bread), while in the "misheret"
(kneading trough, Ex. xii. 34,
39). The shape of the bread was
round-therefore "kikkar lehem,"
a circular loaf of bread (Ex.
xxix. 23; Judges viii. 5),also
"'uggah" (cake, Gen. xviii.
6; I Kings xix. 6); while "hallah" (Lev. viii.
26; Num. xv. 20) is probably a
perforated or punctured cake,
and "lebibah" (II Sam.
xiii. 6) a folded or rolled cake.
The bread was baked by women.
It could be taken as food on a
journey (Gen. xxi. 14; I Sam.
ix. 7); when kept too long it
became dry and moldy (Josh. ix.
Showbread was kept for
a whole week and then eaten by
the priests, while the fresh bread
was offered anew every Sabbath
(Lev. xxiv. 8, 9; I Sam. xxi.
the time of Herod, bakers furnished
the people with bread (Josephus,
"Ant." xv. 9, §
2), if such did not already exist
in the time of Jeremiah and Nehemiah
(Jer. xxxvii. 21; Neh. iii. 19,
xii. 38). The priests of Bet Garmo
possessed special skill in baking
the showbread, but were blamed
for keeping their secret to themselves
(Yoma iii. 11). In Talmudical
times the housewife baked the
bread for the week every Friday
(Ta'an. 24b, last line; see
Use of "Bread."
is often used in the Bible for
food in general, as in Gen. iii.
19: "In the sweat of thy
face shalt thou eat bread"
(compare Gen. xxxix. 6, xlvii.
12; Ex. xxiii. 25; Lev. xxi. 8;
Num. xix. 9; Job xxiv. 5; Ps.
cxlvii. 9 [A. V. "food"];
I Sam. xx. 24 et seq. ; Prov.
vi. 8; Isa. Ixv. 25 [A. V. "meat"]);
but as a rule "lehem."
denotes bread, while in the Arabic
it signifies meat. In Ex. xvi.
8 and I Kings xvii. 6 it is contrasted
with "basar" = flesh.
It is the "food" which
comes forth from the earth (Ps.
civ. 14; Job xxviii. 5; Isa. xxx.
23, lv. 10), and, being solid,
sustains (A. V. "strengtheneth")
man's heart (Ps. civ. 15; Judges
xix. 5 [A. V. "comfort"]),
thus becoming a "staff of
bread" (Lev. xxvi. 26; Ezek.
iv. 16) or "stay of bread"
(Isa. iii. 1), the "breaking"
of which means famine. On the
other hand, "fulness of bread"
(Ezek. xvi. 49), or "fatness
of bread" (Gen. xlix. 20)
is plenty. Giving or breaking
bread to the hungry (Isa. lviii.
7; Ezek. xviii. 7; Prov. xxii.
9) is charity; to withhold it
from the hungry (Job xxii. 8)
is inhuman. To invite the stranger
to eat bread and to prepare it
for him quickly is hospitality
(Ex. ii. 20; Gen. xviii. 5), the
lack of which meets with due punishment
(Deut. xxiii. 4; Judges viii.
15). The seed of the righteous
shall not "beg bread"
nor "be in want of bread"
(Ps. xxxvii. 25, cxxxii. 15; Isa.
li. 14), whereas the children
of the wicked "shall not
be satisfied with bread"
(Job xxvii. 14; compare I Sam.
ii. 36; II Sam. iii. 29), Abstinence
from "bread" signifies
fasting (II Sam. iii. 35).
of the Daily Bread
special benediction was instituted
for bread: Blessed be He who bringeth
forth food out of the earth,"
after Ps. xiv. 14 (Ber. vi. 1).
The one who presided at the table
broke the bread and said the blessing
(Ber. 46a; Matt. xiv. 19, xv.
36, xxvi. 26 et seq.; Acts xxvii.
35); and where three ate together,
grace was also said in common
(Ber. 50a). Divine blessing rested
on the bread which Sarah baked,
for she was careful to guard the
dough against Levitical impurity
(Gen. R. lx.). There is, however,
a mark of divine favor in every
piece, for when Adam heard the
words: "Thou shalt eat the
herbs of the field" (Gen.
iii. 18), he shed tears and said:
"O Lord of the Universe,
must I and my ass eat out of the
same manger?"; but when God
said: "In the sweat of thy
face shalt thou eat bread"
(Gen. iii. 19), he felt relieved
(Pes. 118a). The manna, or "the
bread from heaven," was typical
of the daily bread received by
man from the hand of God; even
the sweat of labor was not wanting
in the former (Mek., Beshalla?,
Wayassa', 2 and 3). "He who,
having bread in his basket, still
says, 'What shall we eat to-morrow?'
is one of those of little faith,"
says R. Eliezer of the first century
ben Yohai said: "A loaf of
bread and a rod were handed down
from heaven tied together as if
to say: If ye observe the Law,
there will be the loaf of bread
for you to eat; if not, there
will be the rod for you to be
punished with" (Ber. 29b).
Bread with salt, the poor man's
food (Ber. 2b), should be sufficient
for the student of the Law (Abot
vi. 4); of him it is said, "The
Lord will bless thy bread"
(Ex. xxiii. 25; B. ?. 92b). He
should be satisfied even with
barley-bread (Shab. 140b). However,
bran-bread is not so nourishing
as fine wheat-bread (Pes. 42a),
which feeds the intellect. "The
tree of knowledge Adam ate of
was wheat," says R. Judah
(Sanh. 70b). It is best eaten
with some other kind of food.
"The Babylonians who eat
bread together with pastry are
fools" (Be?ah 16a). "Herbs
together with bread promote the
appetite" ('Er. 140b). Bread
should be treated with special
regard. Raw meat should not be
placed upon it, nor an overflowing
wine-cup be allowed to spoil it;
it should not be thrown across
the table nor used to hold up
any other thing (Ber. 50b; Mas.
Derek Ere?. viii.). There is an
evil spirit of poverty by the
name of Nibbul ( "bread-spoiler"),
who has power over him who spoils
bread; and there is a good spirit
by the name of Na?id ("cleanliness"),
who blesses him with plenty who
lets not crums of bread lie on
the ground (Pes. 111b; Hul. 105b).
was considered improper to hang
up bread in a basket. "He
who hangs his bread-basket hangs
his support," was the common
saying (Pes. 111b); however, to
have bread in his bread-basket
lessened one's hunger (Yoma 74b).
"Eat thou not the bread of
him that hath an evil eye"
(Prov. xxiii. 6).
Rab Huna broke (or folded) bread
for the meal, he first opened
his door and said, "Let every
one in need come and eat"
(Ta'an. 20b). The virtuous woman
of the Bible does not eat "the
bread of idleness" (Prov.
xxxi. 27), and in Talmudical times
she broke her bread to the poor
(Ta'an. 23b). Micah, the idolater
(Judges xvii.), provided the poor
on the road with bread, and was
therefore not counted among those
who have no share in the world
to come (Sanh. 103b). The men
of Sodom passed a law not to give
bread to the needy, and when one
maiden, moved to compassion, handed
some in a jar to the poor, her
countrymen on discovering it besmeared
her body with honey, andplaced
her thus upon the roof, where
bees came and stung her to death,
and her cry "made the sin
of Sodom and Gomorrah very grievous
before the Lord" (Sanh. 109b,
after Gen. xviii. 20). "He
who does not leave some crums
of bread for the poor deprives
himself of God's blessing; but
he must not leave them to a 'guardian
spirit.' after the fashion of
the heathen" (Sanh. 92a).
During the Middle Ages the Jew
took an oath by "the bread
from God" (Tendlau, "Sprichwörter
und Redensarten Deutsch-Jüdischer
Vorzeit," p. 105).
thy bread upon the waters, for
thou shalt find it after many
days" (Eccl. xi. 1), is illustrated
in Ab. R. N. iii., ed. Schechter,
p. 17, and in Eccl. R., by the
story of a man who suffered shipwreck
and was saved by a spirit appearing
to him personifying his charities;
other similar stories are given
in Eccl. R. A more drastic illustration
is given by a story reproduced
by Dukes' "Rabbinische Blumenlese,"
1844, p. 73, from Diez, "Denkwürdigkeiten
von Asien," i. 106, quoting
Cabus. A man, in order to test
the truth of this verse, cast
each day into the water several
hundred loaves with his name printed
thereon. They reached the son
of Calif Mutawakkil of Bagdad,
who, while bathing, had become
imprisoned beneath a rock and
remained there for seven days,
feeding on these loaves, no one
knowing where he was until he
was discovered by a diver. Of
course, the man who had thus saved
the prince from starvation was