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Foods of the Bible: Bread, Wheat, Flour

By Yona Williams    1/29/10

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Different types of bread have been mentioned in the Bible, depending on the group of people in question. For instance, the Jews used wheat as a main ingredient in their bread, alongside other grains. In this article, you will learn some of the different ways bread is prepared, as well as passages that mention wheat and flour.

Bread  
 
After mixing and kneading bread, a handful of preparation methods were used to bake bread. Some towns were equipped with public ovens, which townsfolk readily used. Some people chose to become bakers by trade. The oven of the past differed greatly from what we use today. According to 1 Kings 19:6, another method of cooking bread was to place it in the ground after a fire had heated it. The area was then covered with the embers. In reference to Sarah's preparation of bread in Gen. 18:6, baking it under the ground is the most likely method of preparation.

When reading Lev.2, an account regarding the different cakes and bread used by the Jews is mentioned: "And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil." The Jews also ate what was known as the shew-bread, which was served on a table every Sabbath. Consisting of 12 loaves of unleavened bread, the food was offered hot and presented in an oblong or square shape. The number of bread loaves was also significant to the culture, as they were meant to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. Every Sabbath, the old bread loaves were removed and saved for only priests in the court of the sanctuary to eat.

Throughout the Bible, bread is mentioned under different circumstances and to serve as a variety of references, including 'bread of sorrows,' 'bread of tears,' bread of wickedness,' and 'bread of deceit.'

Flour

When reduced to the form of meal, flour from grain was mentioned since Gen. 18:6. Daily tasks included baking, where grain was ground at the mills on a consistent basis. According to Ex. 12:34, the flour was blended with water, which underwent a kneading process in what was known as kneading-troughs – where after dough was mixed and leavened, it was left to ferment or swell in size. Depending on breadmaker, leaven was added. The dough was sometimes formed into thin cakes that were baked in an oven.

Flour was also used under many different circumstances. The poor would offer fine flour when they repented for their sins (Lev. 5:11-13). Sometimes, flour played a role during sacrifices as seen in Num. 15:3-12 and 28:7-29.

Wheat

Wheat is known in the Bible as one of the earliest cultivated grains and was extensively cultivated in Palestine. In the past, many different species of wheat are mentioned. Wheat was also exported from Palestine in great quantities. Inhabitants of Palestine used parched grains of wheat. According to Deut. 23:25, the disciples under the sanction of the Mosaic law would pluck ears of corm and rub then in their hands, where the grain was eaten unroasted. However, before any of the wheat-harvest could be consumed, the first fruits needed to be presented before the Lord.


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