Friday, December 17, 2010

An introduction to biblical food Part 1 of 3

It's long time ago that I promised to start biblical food theme in my blog. Now that I'm on Christmas holiday for two weeks I have more time for updating blog. I'm planning to start at least with food and charity themes before returning to study books which I must do on January 9th. There's a lot of talk about food in the Bible: there are descriptions of meals, parables of Jesus and His food wonders... We even pray God to give us our daily bread which means more than food in the prayer. I'll start by sharing some food-related Bible verses and knowledge based on discoveries of the archeaologists. Later I'll begin with publishing Bible inspired recipes and tell about food in the New Testament. So we'll also take a look at secrets of ancient Roman cooking and recipes. We'll also ponder the personal diet of Jesus. After that I've thought about starting to publish Biblical Recipe of the Month. Part 3 of my introduction will be published on March or April.

Food in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament there's described a wide variety of plants that have been known in the area of Palestine. Regardless, it doesn't tell whole truth about diet which has been very one-sided in reality. The basis of nutrition were grain products, especially wheat and barley and legumes, wine and olive oil. It has been estimated that even 50% of daily energy was gotten from grains. Corns were eaten roasted and sometimes also fresh. Usually the corns were dried and after grinding porridges, gruels and leavened and unleavened bread were prepared. Wheat groats that were first grinded were cooked like modern couscous. The most usual food was like pita bread. The bread was used as cutlery by what different stews were eaten from common dishes. May I note that when I started researching people's life in the Bible's era from books and other resources, I also realized that customs have remained pretty same in modern Middle East since Antique (but of course they have developed much in time's cycle). My boyfriend is from Middle East and I've noticed that eating habits have remained pretty same. I was also surprised how dinar is still used beside modern currencies. But let's go on with the food:

In addition to grain products dairy such as yoghurt and curd-like cheese might have been eaten. Dairy was prepared especially from goat's milk but also cow's milk was used. Nutrition was backfilled with wild vegetables, but growing vegetables required so much water that they could be grown only in small amounts. Meat was above all celebration food but the well earning had it served otherwise too. Probably the typical daily nutrition is described in 1 Samuel 25:18 where food that was taken to journeys is described: bread, wine, roasted corns, raisin and fig cakes.

Having nutrition wasn't truism in ancient Middle East. There lack seasons turn up and enough nutrition wasn't provided even for the wealthy. Plant diseases and pests such as grasshoppers diminished the crop and they couldn't be efficiently prevented. Insects and rodents damaged also already picked crops. One-sided nutrition caused various deficiency diseases. Nutrition wasn't devided equally even between genders. Comprehensive bone researches can't have been done on this issue, but discoveries made in certain discovery spots would refer to that men were in average much taller than women. Height difference differs so much from modern height difference between men and women that they can draw a conclusion that boys and men got at least locally better nutrition than girls and women.

In good seasons upper class could effort more diverse nutrition than the poor. Upper class had at its best abundant and diverse diet and for example ancient Egyptian story of Sinuhe from 1900 to 1800 BC tells about this. Text describes experiences of noble Sinuhe in Asia in the area of Syria-Palestine. He lived for some time in the area that he named as Upper Retenu which lied in the country of Yaa. According to Sinuhe there grew figs and grapes and there was more wine than water. There was much honey and olives and various fruit trees. There was much barley and wheat growing in the area and stock unlimitedly. Sinuhe describes:" They prepared bread for my daily food and strong drinks, wine for daily need, cooked meat and fried fowl, in addition to which they hunted and prepared game for me in addition to the catch of my own hounds. Many sweet dishes were prepared for me and in every cooked food there was milk." In other than lack years there was always enough food, though it was quite one-sided.

Here's a biblical grocery list which should contain all food ingredients mentioned in the Bible. Do correct me if there's something to add in the list:

Seasonings, spices and herbs

Anise (Matthew 23:23)
Coriander (Exodus 16:31; Numbers 11:7)
Cinnamon (Exodus 30:23; Revelation 18:13)
Cumin (Isaiah 28:25; Matthew 23:23)
Dill (Matthew 23:23)
Garlic (Numbers 11:5)
Mint (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42)
Mustard (Matthew 13:31)
Rue (Luke 11:42)
Salt (Ezra 6:9; Job 6:6)

Fruits and nuts

Apples (Song of Solomon 2:5)
Almonds (Genesis 43:11; Numbers 17:8)
Dates (2 Samuel 6:19; 1 Chronicles 16:3)
Figs (Nehemiah 13:15; Jeremiah 24:1-3)
Grapes (Leviticus 19:10; Deuteronomy 23:24)
Melons (Numbers 11:5; Isaiah 1:8)
Olives (Isaiah 17:6; Micah 6:15)
Pistachio Nuts (Genesis 43:11)
Pomegranates (Numbers 20:5; Deuteronomy 8:8)
Raisins (Numbers 6:3; 2 Samuel 6:19)
Sycamore Fruit (Psalm 78:47; Amos 7:14)

Vegetables and Legumes

Beans (2 Samuel 17:28; Ezekiel 4:9)
Cucumbers (Numbers 11:5)
Lentils (Genesis 25:34; 2 Samuel 17:28; Ezekiel 4:9)
Onions (Numbers 11:5)
Gourds (2 Kings 4:39)
Leeks (Numbers 11:5)


Barley (Deuteronomy 8:8; Ezekiel 4:9)
Bread (Genesis 25:34; 2 Samuel 6:19; 16:1; Mark 8:14)
Corn (Matthew 12:1; refers to "grain" such as wheat or barley)
Flour (2 Samuel 17:28; 1 Kings 17:12)
Millet (Ezekiel 4:9)
Spelt (Ezekiel 4:9)
Unleavened Bread (Genesis 19:3; Exodus 12:20)
Wheat (Ezra 6:9; Deuteronomy 8:8)


Matthew 15:36
John 21:11-13


Partridge (1 Samuel 26:20; Jeremiah 17:11)
Pigeon (Genesis 15:9; Leviticus 12:8)
Quail (Psalm 105:40)
Dove (Leviticus 12:8)

Animal Meats

Calf (Proverbs 15:17; Luke 15:23)
Goat (Genesis 27:9)
Lamb (2 Samuel 12:4)
Oxen (1 Kings 19:21)
Sheep (Deuteronomy 14:4)
Venison (Genesis 27:7)


Butter (Proverbs 30:33)
Cheese (2 Samuel 17:29; Job 10:10)
Curds (Isaiah 7:15)
Milk (Exodus 33:3; Job 10:10; Judges 5:25)


Eggs (Job 6:6; Luke 11:12)
Grape Juice (Numbers 6:3)
Honey (Exodus 33:3; Deuteronomy 8:8; Judges 14:8-9)
Locust (Mark 1:6)
Olive Oil (Ezra 6:9; Deuteronomy 8:8)
Vinegar (Ruth 2:14; John 19:29)
Wine (Ezra 6:9; John 2:1-10)


  1. Hi

    I found your blog through BlogFrog. I am interested in reading what you have to share about Biblical food...I struggle with weight issues and I am a diabetic and have been thinking that I need to really do something drastic in my eating to get my system healthy.

    I read through a few of your posts. You are a very good writer. I look forward to following along on your journey.

    I am also a believer, live in the US. Currently in Washington state yet planning a move to Texas next March.

    God Bless and may you have a very Merry Christmas.

  2. Hi Mary,
    So delighted to have discovered your wonderful site. How much I can learn from you!
    Love this post, and will be returning.
    Meet your newest Google follower.
    Hope you'll swing by and visit me too.
    I love company:)

  3. Love all the info and scriptures on biblical food. We all need to get back to the basics! I look forward to reading more in the New Year. Congrats on your book too!

    I'm your newest follower from (In)Courage. My blog's a mess right now as I redo somethings and move urls, but stop by anyway! I've followed all of your media sources :)

    Merry Christmas!


  4. That was really interesting,you put some good effort into sharing all the scripture links. I am grateful for that. As I ponder upon changing my eating habits in the New Year, I could see living on the Bibles grocery list.

  5. Hi Mary
    You have i nice blog, And You are a very good writer TOO.µ
    Check out my blog >> http://healthy-lstyle.blogspot.

  6. Thanks for the information. I've tried out quite a few meditation timers and for the last few weeks I've been using this one ('Meditation Timer') for Android: Meditation Blogs