Foods of the Bible: Figs, Grapes, Raisins, Barley

The things we eat today are much different than what was served during Biblical times. However, some food items have stood the test of time , offering sustenance that has evolved over time. In this article, you will learn more about figs, grapes, raisins and barley.


It was in Gen. 3:7 that we encounter the first mention of figs in the Bible: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Many passages continue to establish figs and fig trees as a significant. Sometimes the fig is referred to as a source of food, while other passages focus on fig leaves.

Other mentions of figs in the Bible include:

·    In Deut. 8:8, the fig tree is noted as one of the valuable products of Palestine.

·    Figs became associated with peace and prosperity, as seen in 1 Kings 4:25; Micah 4:4; and Zech. 3:10.

·    In some circles, figs served a medicinal purpose (2 Kings 20:7).

·    When pressed together, figs were made into ‘cakes’ as stated in 1 Sam. 30:12 and Jer. 24:2.


Throughout Palestine, grapes were cultivated as the fruit of the vine and have come to mean many different things, depending on the passages you encounter. In Isa. 5:2,4, wild grapes are mentioned, while Isa. 18:5 describes them as ‘sour.’ In Job 15:33, the grapes are ‘unripe,’ while the Song of Songs 2:13, 15 depicts grapes as being ‘tender.’


In Judg. 4:19, milk in its fresh state is referred to as ‘new milk.’ Often times, it is mentioned in the same breath as honey. In passages such as Gen. 32:15 and Prov. 27:27, animals such as sheep, goats, cows and camels are created to give milk for man. Some of the symbolism associated with milk includes signs of abundance and is also seen as a symbol of the rudiments of doctrine (Hebrews 5:12). Other forms of milk mentioned in the Bible includes ‘butter,’ ‘cream’ and ‘curdled milk.’


Dried grapes are referred to as raisins in the Bible and appear in 1 Sam. 25:18: “Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses.”


In Egypt and Palestine, barley was a prominent grain, especially when used as food for horses (1 Kings 4:28). Poorer residents dined on bread made out of barley. It was also the first crop that was ready to be harvested by the time Passover took place in the middle of April. Another significant mention of barley in the Bible is found in John 6:9, where the Lord fed five thousand with “five barley loaves and two small fishes.”