« Brazil Bread and Baking Breckinridge, John »

Bread and Baking

BREAD AND BAKING: Bread was for the Hebrews the chief article of diet, as it is for modern Palestinian peasants. In early times it was made from barley, which was later displaced by wheat, except as it remained the staple for the poorer classes, though now it is not regarded as altogether wholesome. Primitive usage was to roast the ears of grain, which were so eaten especially at harvest time (Ruth ii, 14), and, thus prepared, still form a convenient food for travelers. In primitive preparation of grain for food, a sort of mortar was used to crush it into the coarser meal, a handmill for the flour. The latter, of primitive form, is still used in the East and consists of two stones, the lower one the harder, the middle surfaces not flat, but respectively concave and convex, the upper with a hole in the center in which the post of the lower is set and into which the grain is poured for grinding. The work of grinding fell to the women or to slaves, though the later and larger mills were turned by beasts. The preparation of meal or flour was a daily task, done as there was need for the product. The dough was mixed in a wooden kneading-trough, and in early times was unleavened, as is the case generally with the modern Bedouin. The dough was made up round, flat or disk-shaped, and baked on a layer of heated stones from which the coals were removed when the dough was placed upon the stones to bake and then replaced. Mention is made (Lev. ii, 5) of an iron plate or pan for baking. There came to be finally two forms of oven, both in common use among the modern peasantry, one of which is heated from the outside, the other from the inside. The art of baking was developed with the other arts till it became a handicraft or trade, and gave its name to a street in Jerusalem (Jer. xxxvii, 21; cf. Hos. vii, 4). Bread was used in sacred offerings at first either leavened or unleavened; later the former was excluded (Ex. xxiii, 18; Lev. ii, 11).

(I. Benzinger.)

Bibliography: An excellent account, perhaps the best, is to be found in DB, i, 315–319. Consult also: E. Robinson, 257 Biblical Researches, ii, 416–417, New York, 1856; C. M. Doughty, Arabia Deserta, i, 131 and passim, London, 1888; Benzinger, Archäologie, pp. 62–66, 2d ed.; H. Vogelstein, Die Landwirtschaft in Palästina, Berlin, 1894; EB, i, 604–605.

« Brazil Bread and Baking Breckinridge, John »
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