(לֶחֶם, le'chem; ἄρτος.), a word of far more extensive meaning among the Hebrews than at present with us. There are passages in which it appears to be applied to all kinds of victuals (Lu 11:3); but it more generally denotes all kinds of baked and pastry articles of food. It is also used, however, in the more limited sense of bread made from wheat or barley, for rye is little cultivated in the East. The preparation of bread as an article of food dates from a very early period: it must not, however, be inferred from the use of the word lechem in Ge 3:19 (" bread," A. V.) that it was known at the time of the fall, the word there occurring in its general sense of food: the earliest undoubted instance of its use is found in Ge 18:6.
1. Materials. — The corn or grain (שֵׁבֶר, she'ber, דָּנָן, dagan') employed was of various sorts: the best bread was made of wheat, which, after being ground, produced the "flour" or "meal" (קֶמִח, ke'mach; ἄλευρον; Jg 6:19; 1Sa 1:24; 1Ki 4:22; 1Ki 17:12,14), and when sifted the "fine flour" (סֹלֶת, so'leth, more fully סֹלֶת חַטַּים, Ex 29:2; or קֶמִח סֹלֶת, Ge 18:6; σεμίδαλις) usually employed in the sacred offerings (Ex 29:40; Le 2:1; Eze 46:14), and in the meals of the wealthy (1Ki 4:22; 2Ki 7:1; Eze 16:13,19; Re 18:13). "Barley" was used only by the very poor (Joh 6:9,18), or in times of scarcity (Ru 3:15, compared with 1:1; 2Ki 4:38,42; Re 6:6; Joseph. War, v, 10, 2): as it was the food of horses (1Ki 4:28), it was considered a symbol of what was mean and insignificant (Jg 7:13; comp. Joseph. Ant. v, 6, 4, μάζαν κριθίνην, ὑπ᾿ εὐτελείας ἀνθρώποις ἄβρωτον; Liv. 27:13). as well as of what was of a mere animal character, and hence ordered for the offering of jealousy (Numbers v, 15;' comp. Ho 3:2; Philo, ii, 307). "Spelt" (כֻּסֶּמֶת, kusse'meth; ὄλυρα, ζέα; V. rye, fitches, spelt) was also used both in Egypt (Ex 9:32) and Palestine (Isa 28:25; Eze 4:9; 1Ki 19:6; Sept. ἐλκρυφίας ὀλυρίτης): Herodotus I indeed states (ii. 36) that in the former country bread was made exclusively of olyra, which, as in the Sept., he identifies with zea; but in this he was mistaken, as wheat was also used (Ex 9:32; comp. Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. ii, 397). Occasionally the grains above mentioned were mixed, and other ingredients, such as beans, lentils, and millet, were added (Eze 4:9; comp. 2Sa 17:28); the bread so produced is called "barley cakes" (Eze 4:12; A. V. "as barley cakes"), inasmuch as barley was the main ingredient. The amount of meal required for a single baking was an ephah or three measures (Ge 18:6; Jg 6:19; 1Sa 1:24; Mt 13:33), which appears to have been suited to the size of the ordinary oven. Grain is ground daily in the East. SEE MILL.
2. Preparation. — After the wheaten flour is taken from the hand-mill, it is made into a dough or paste in a small wooden trough. SEE KNEADING- TROUGH. The process of making bread was as follows: the flour was first mixed with water, or perhaps milk (Burckhardt's Notes on the Bedouins, i, 58); it was then kneaded (לוּשׁ) with the hands (in Egypt with the feet also; Herod. ii, 36; Wilkinson, ii, 386) in a small wooden bowl or "kneading- trough" (מַשׁאֶרֶת, mishe'reth, a term which may, however, rather refer to the leathern bag in which the Bedouins carry their provisions, and which serves both as a wallet and a table; Niebuhr's Voyage, i, 171; Harmer, 4:366 sq.; the Sept. inclines to this view, giving ἐγκαταλείμματα [A. V. "store"] in De 28:5,17; the expression in Ex 12:34, however, "bound up in their clothes," favors the idea of a wooden bowl), until it became dough (בָּצֵק, batsek'; σταῖς, Ex 12:34,39; 2Sa 13:8; Jer 6:18; Ho 7:4; the term "dough" is improperly given in the A. V. for עֲרַיסוֹת, grits, in Nu 15:20-21; Ne 10:37; Eze 44:30). When the kneading was completed, leaven (שׂאֹר, seor'; ζύμη) was generally added; but when the time for preparation was short, it was omitted, and unleavened cakes, hastily baked, were eaten, as is still the prevalent custom among the Bedouins (Ge 18:6; Ge 19:3; Ex 12:39; Jg 6:19; 1Sa 28:24). SEE LEAVEN. Such cakes were termed מִצּוֹת, matstsoth' (Sept. ἄζυμα), a word of doubtful sense, variously supposed to convey the ideas of thinness (Fiirst, Lex. s.v.), sweetness (Gesen. Thesaur. p. 815), or purity (Knobel, Comm. in Ex 12:20), while leavened bread was called חָמֵוֹ, chamets' (lit. sharpened or soured; Ex 12:39; Ho 7:4). Unleavened cakes were ordered to be eaten at the Passover to commemorate the hastiness of the departure (Ex 12:15; Ex 13:3,7; De 16:3), as well as on other sacred occasions (Le 2:11; Le 6:16; Nu 6:15). The leavened mass was allowed to stand for some time (Mt 13:33; Lu 13:21), sometimes for a whole night ("their baker sleepeth all the night," Ho 7:6), exposed to a moderate heat in order to forward the fermentation (" he ceaseth from stirring" [מֵעַיר A. V. "raising"] the fire " until it be leavened," Ho 7:4). The dough was then divided into round cakes (כַּכּרוֹת לֶחֶם, lit. circles of bread; ἄρτοι; A. V. "loaves;" Ex 29:23; Jg 8:5; 1Sa 10:3; Pr 6:26; in Jg 7:13, i, צלוּל, , μαγίς), not unlike flat stones in shape and appearance (Mt 7:9; comp. 4:3), about a span in diameter and a finger's breadth in thickness (comp. Lane's Modern Egyptians, i, 164): three of these were required for the meal of a single person (Lu 11:5), and consequently one was barely sufficient to sustain life (1Sa 2:36, A. V. "morsel;" Jer 37:21, A. V. "piece"), whence the expression לֶחֶם לִחִוֹ, "bread of affliction" (1Ki 22:27; Isa 30:20), referring not to the quality (pane plebeio, Grotius), but to the quantity; two hundred would suffice for a party for a reasonable time (1Sa 25:18; 2Sa 16:1). The cakes were sometimes punctured, and hence called חִלָּה chalah' (κολλυρίς; Ex 29:2,23; Le 2:4; Le 8:26; Le 24:5; Nu 15:20; 2Sa 6:19), and mixed with oil. Similar cakes, sprinkled with seeds, were made in Egypt (Wilkinson, ii, 386). Sometimes they were rolled out into wafers (רָקַיק, rakik'; λάγανον; Ex 29:2,23; Le 2:4; Nu 6:15-19), and merely coated with oil. Oil was occasionally added to the ordinary cake (1Ki 17:12). A more delicate kind of cake is described in 2Sa 13:6,8,10; the dough (A. V. "flour") is kneaded a second time, and probably fried in fat, as seems to be implied in the name לבַיבוֹת, lebiboth', q. d. dough-nuts (from לָבִב, to befaet, kindred with לֵבָב, heart; compare our expression hearty food; Sept. κολλυρίδες; Vulg. sorbitiunculce). (See below.)
3. Baking. — The cakes were now taken to the oven; having been first, according to the practice in Egypt, gathered into " white baskets" (Ge 40:16), סִלֵּי חֹרַי, salley' chori', a doubtful expression, referred by some to the whiteness of the bread (Sept. κανᾶ χονδριτῶν ; Aquil. κὀφινοι γύρεως; Vulg. canistra farina), by others, as in the A. V., to the whiteness of the baskets, and again, by connecting the word חֹרַי with the idea of a hole, to an open-work basket (margin, A. V.), or, lastly, to bread baked in a hole. The baskets were placed on a tray and carried on the baker's head (Ge 40:16; Herod. ii, 35; Wilkinson, ii, 386). SEE BASKET.
The baking was done in primitive times by the mistress of the house (Ge 18:6) or one of the daughters (2Sa 13:8); female servants were, however, employed in large households (1Sa 8:13): it appears always to have been the proper business of women in a family (Jer 7:18; Jer 44:19; Mt 13:33; comp. Plin. 18:11, 28). Baking, as a profession, was carried on by men (Ho 7:4,6). In Jerusalem the bakers congregated in one quarter of the town, as we may infer from the name "bakers' street" (Jer 37:21), and "tower of the ovens" (Ne 3:11; Ne 12:38); A. V. "furnaces." In the time of the Herods, bakers were scattered throughout the towns of Palestine (Joseph. Ant. 15:9, 2). As the bread was made in thin cakes, which soon became dry and unpalatable, it was usual to bake daily, or when required (Ge 18:6; comp. Harmer's Observations, i, 483): reference is perhaps made to this in the Lord's prayer (Mt 6:11; Lu 11:3). The bread taken by persons on a journey (Ge 45:23; Jos 9:12) was probably a kind of biscuit. SEE BAKE.
The methods of baking (אָפָה, aphah') were, and still are, very various in the East, adapted to the various styles of life. In the towns, where professional bakers resided, there were no doubt fixed ovens, in shape and size resembling those in use among ourselves; but more usually each household possessed a portable oven (תִנּוּר, tannur'; κλίβανος), consisting of a stone or metal jar about three feet high, which was heated inwardly with wood (1Ki 17:12; Isa 44:15; Jer 7:18) or dried grass and flower-stalks (χόρτος, Mt 6:30); when the fire had burned down, the cakes were applied either inwardly (Herod. ii, 92) or outwardly: such ovens were used by the Egyptians (Wilkinson, ii, 385), and by the Easterns of Jeronme's time (Comment. in Lam. v, 10), and are still common among the Bedouins (Wellsted's Travels, i, 350; Niebuhr's Descript. de I'Arabie, p. 45, 46). The use of a single oven by several families only took place in time of famine (Le 26:26). Another species of oven consisted of a hole dug in the ground, the sides of which were coated with clay and the bottom with pebbles (Harmer, i, 487). Jahn (Archaol. i, 9, § 140) thinks that this oven is referred to in the term כַירִיַם, kira'yim (Le 11:35); but the dual number is an objection to this view; the term חֹרַי above (Ge 40:16) has also been referred to it. SEE OVEN.
Other modes of baking were specially adapted to the migratory habits of the pastoral Jews, as of the modern Bedouins; the cakes were either spread upon stones, which were previously heated by lighting a fire above them (Burckhardt's Notes, i, 58) or beneath them (Belzoni's Travels, p. 84); or they were thrown into the heated embers of the fire itself (Wellsted's Travels, i, 350; Niebuhr, Descript. p. 46); or, lastly, they were roasted by being placed between layers of dung, which burns slowly, and is therefore specially adapted for the purpose (Ezr 4:12,15; Burckhardt's Notes, i, 57; Niebuhr's Descript. p. 46). The terms by which such cakes were described were עֻגָּה, uggah' (Ge 18:6; Ex 12:39; 1Ki 17:13; Ezr 4:12; Ho 7:8), מָעוֹג, (1Ki 17:12; Ps 35:16), or more fully עֻגִּת רצָפַים., uggath' retsaphin' (1Ki 19:6, lit. on the stones,' "coals," A. V ), the term עֻגָּה referring, however, not to the mode of baking, but to the rounded shape of the cake (Gesen. Thesaur. p. 997): the equivalent terms in the Sept. ἐγκρυφίας, and in the Vulg. subcizericius panis, have direct reference to the peculiar mode of baking. The cakes required to be carefully turned suring the process (Ho 7:8; Harmer, i, 488). Other methods were used for other kinds of bread; some were baked on a pan (מִחֲבִת; τήγανον; sartago: the Greek term survives in the tajen of the Bedouins), the result being similar to the khubz still used among the latter people (Burckhardt's Notes, i, 58), or like the Greek ταγήνιαι, which were baked in oil, and eaten warm with honey (Athen. 14:55, p. 64C); such cakes appeared to have been chiefly used as sacred offerings (Le 2:5; Le 6:14; Le 7:9; 1Ch 23:29). A similar cooking utensil was used by Tamar (2Sa 13:9, מִחֲבִת; τὴγανον), in which she baked the cakes and then emptied them out in a heap (יָצִק, not " poured," as if it had been broth) before Ammon. A different kind of bread, probably resembling the ftita of the Bedouins, apasty substance (Burckhardt's Notes, i, 57), was prepared in a saucepan (מִרחֶשֶׁת; ἐσχάρα; craticula; A. V. frying-pan; none of which meanings, however, correspond with the etymological sense of the word, which is connected with boiling); this was also reserved for sacred offerings (Le 2:7; Le 7:9). As the above-mentioned kinds of bread (the last excepted) were thin and crisp, the mode of eating them was by breaking (Le 2:6; Isa 58:7; La 4:4; Mt 14:19; Mt 15:36; Mt 26:26; Ac 20:11; comp. Xen. Anab. 7:3, § 22, ἄρτους διέκλα), whence the term פָּרִס, to break = to give bread (Jer 16:7); the pieces broken for consumption were called κλάσματα (Mt 14:20; Joh 6:12).. Old bread is described in Jos 9:5,12, as crumbled (נַקֻּדַים , nikkudim'; Aquil. ἐψαθυρωμένος; infrusta comminuti; A. V. " mouldy," following the Sept. εὐρωτιῶν καὶ βεβρωμένος), a term which is also applied (1Ki 14:3) to a kind of biscuit, which easily crumbled (κολλυρίς; A. V. "cracknels"). SEE CAKE.
4. Figurative Uses of the term "Bread." — As the Hebrews generally made their bread very thin, and in the form of little flat cakes (especially their unleavened bread), they did not cut it with a knife, but broke it, which gave rise to that expression so usual in Scripture of breaking bread, to signify eating, sitting down to table, taking a repast (La 4:4; Mt 14:19; Mt 15:36). In the institution of the Lord's Supper our Saviour broke the bread; whence to break bread, and breaking of bread, in the New Testament, are used some, times for the celebration of the Eucharist (Mt 26:26), and also the celebration of the agape, or lovefeast (Ac 2:46). (See below.)
"Cast thy bread upon the waters" (Ec 11:1), may allude to the custom practised in some countries of sowing bread-corn or rice upon a soil well irrigated, or, as some think, against the rainy season; or, in a figurative sense, it may be an exhortation to disinterested liberality, with a promise of receiving its due recompense.
The figurative expressions "bread of sorrows" (Ps 127:2) and "bread of tears" (Ps 43:3) mean the portion of every day as one's daily bread. So the "bread of wickedness" (Pr 4:17) and "bread of deceit" (Pr 10:17) denote not only a living or estate obtained by fraud and sin, but that to do wickedly is as much the portion of a wicked man's life as to eat his daily bread. SEE DAILY BREAD; SEE LIFE (BREAD OF).
SHEW-BREAD is the rendering in the Auth. Vers. of the Heb. לֶחֶם פָּנַים, le'chem panmnta, the bread of the face, or of the presence, because it was set forth before the face or in the presence of Jehovah in his holy place. It is also called "the bread arranged in order" and "the perpetual bread," because it was never absent from the table (Le 24:6-7; 1Ch 23:29). In the outer apartment of the tabernacle. on the right hand, or north side, stood a table made of acacia (shittim) wood, two cubits long, one broad, and one and a half high, and covered with laminae of gold. The top of the leaf of this table was encircled by a border or rim of gold. The frame of the table immediately below the leaf was encircled with a piece of wood of about four inches in breadth, around the edge of which was a rim or border similar to that around the leaf. A little lower down, but at equal distances from the top of the table, there were four rings of gold fastened to the legs, through which staves covered with gold were inserted for the purpose of carrying it (Ex 25:23-28; Ex 37:10-16). These rings were not found in the table which was afterward made for the Temple, nor indeed in any of the sacred furniture, where they had previously been, except in the ark of the covenant. Twelve unleavened loaves were placed upon this table, which were sprinkled with frankincense (the Sept. adds salt; Le 24:7). The number twelve represents the twelve tribes, and was not diminished after the defection of ten of the tribes from the worship of God in his sanctuary, because the covenant with the sons of Abraham was not formally abrogated, and because there were still many true Israelites among the apostatizing tribes. The twelve loaves were also a constant record against them, and served as a standing testimonial that their proper place was before the forsaken altar of Jehovah. The loaves were placed in two piles, one above another, and were changed every Sabbath day by the priests. The frankincense that had stood on the bread during the week was then burned as an oblation, and the removed bread became the property of the priests, who, as God's servants, had a right to eat of the bread that came from his table; but they were obliged to eat it in the holy place, and nowhere else. No others might lawfully eat of it; but, in a case of extreme emergency, the priest incurred no blame if he imparted it to persons who were in a state of ceremonial purity, as in the instance of David and his men (1Sa 21:6; Mt 12:4).
Wine also was placed upon the "table of shewbread" in bowls, some larger and some smaller; also in vessels that were covered and in cups, which were probably employed in pouring in and taking out the wine from the other vessels, or in making libations. Gesenius calls them " patere libatoriae," and they appsar in the Authorized Version as " spoons" (see generally Ex 25:29-30; Ex 37:10-16; Ex 40:4,24; Le 24:5-9; Nu 4:7). SEE SHEW-BREAD.