Diet (אֲרֻהָה, aruchah', rendered "allowance," 2Ki 25:30; "victuals," Jer 40:5; "dinner," Pr 15:17), a fixed portion or ration of daily food (Jer 52:34). The food of Eastern nations has been in all ages light and simple. As compared with our own habits, the chief points of contrast are the small amount of animal food consumed, the variety of articles used as accompaniments to bread, the substitution of milk in various forms for our liquors, and the combination of what we should deem heterogeneous elements in the same dish or the same meal. The chief point of agreement is the large consumption of bread, the importance of which in the eyes of the Hebrew is testified by the use of the term lechem (originally food of any kind) specifically for bread, as well as by the expression "staff of bread" (Le 26:26; Ps 105:16; Eze 4:16; Eze 14:13). Simpler preparations of corn were, however, common; sometimes the fresh green ears were eaten in a natural state (a custom practiced in Palestine (Robinson's Researches, 1:493), the husks being rubbed off by the hand (Le 23:14; De 23:25; 2Ki 4:42; Mt 12:1; Lu 6:1); more frequently, however, the grains, after being carefully picked, were roasted in a pan over a fire (Le 2:14), and eaten as "parched corn," in which form it was an ordinary article of diet, particularly among. laborers, or others who had not the means of dressing food (Le 23:14; Ru 2:14; 1Sa 17:17; 1Sa 25:18; 2Sa 17:28); this practice is still very usual in the East (comp. Lane, 1:251; Robinson, Res. 2:350). Sometimes the grain was bruised (like the Greek polenta, Pliny, 18:14), in which state it was termed either גֶּרֶשׂ (Sept. ἐρικτά; A. V. "beaten," Le 2:14,16), or רַיפוֹת (Aquil. Symm. πτισάναι; Auth.Vers. "corn," 2Sa 17:19; comp. Pr 27:22), and then dried in the sun; it was eaten either mixed with oil (Le 2:15), or made into a soft cake named עֲרַיסָה (A. V. "dough," Nu 15:20; Ne 10:37; Eze 44:30). The Hebrews used a great variety of articles (Joh 21:5) to give a relish to bread. Sometimes salt was so used (Job 6:6), as we learn from the passage just quoted; sometimes the bread was dipped into the sour wine (A. V. "vinegar") which the laborers drank (Ru 2:14); or, when meat was eaten, into the gravy, which was either served up separately for the purpose, as by Gideon (Jg 6:19), or placed in the middle of the meat-dish, as done by the Arabs (Burckhardt, Notes, 1:63), whose practice of dipping bread in the broth, or melted fat of the animal, strongly illustrates the reference to the sop in Joh 13:26 sq. The modern Egyptians season their bread with a sauce composed of various stimulants, such as salt, mint, sesame, and chickpeas (Lane, 1:180). (The later Jews named this sauce חֲרוֹסֶת [Mishna, Pesach, 2:8]: it consisted of vinegar, almonds, and spice, thickened with flour. It was used at the celebration of the Passover [Pesach, 10:3].) The Syrians, on the other hand, use a mixture of savory and salt for the same purpose (Russell, 1:93). Where the above-mentioned accessories were wanting, fruit, vegetables, fish, or honey was used. In short, it inav be said that all the articles of food which we are about to mention were mainly viewed as subordinates to the staple commodity of bread. The various kinds of bread and cakes are described under the head of SEE BREAD; SEE CAKE; SEE CRACKNEL.
Milk and its preparations hold a conspicuous place in Eastern diet as affording substantial nourishment; sometimes it was produced in a fresh state (חָלָב, Ge 18:8), but more generally in the form of the modern leban, i.e. sour milk (חֶמאָה, A. V. "butter," Ge 18:8; Jg 5:25; 2Sa 17:29). The latter is universally used by the Bedouins, not only as their ordinary beverage (Burckhardt, Notes, 1:240), but mixed with flour, meat, and even salad (Burckhardt, 1:58, 63; Russell, Aleppo, 1:118). It is constantly offered to travelers, and in some parts of Arabia it is deemed scandalous to take any money in return for it (Burckhardt, Arabia, 1:120). For a certain season of the year leban makes up a great part of the food of the poor in Syria (Russell, 1. c.). Butter (Pr 30:33), and various forms of coagulated milk, of the consistency of the modern kaimak (Job 10:10; 1Sa 17:18; 2Sa 17:29), were also used. SEE BUTTER; SEE CHEESE; SEE MILK.
Fruit (q.v.) was another source of subsistence: figs stand first in point of importance; the early sorts described as the "summer fruit" (קִיַוֹ, Am 8:1-2), and the "first ripe fruit" (בַּכּוּרָה, Ho 9:10; Mic 7:1), were esteemed a great luxury, and were eaten as fresh fruit; but they were generally dried and pressed into cakes, similar to the date-cakes of the Arabians (Burckhardt, Arabia, 1:57), in which form they were termed דּבֵלַים (παλάθαι, A.V. "cakes of figs," 1Sa 25:18; 1Sa 30:12; 1Ch 12:40), and occasionally קִיַוֹ simply (2Sa 16:1; A.V. "summer fruit"). Grapes were generally eaten in a dried state as raisins (צַמֻּקַים, Vulg. igaturca uvc passea, 1Sa 25:18; 1Sa 30:12; 2Sa 16:1; 1Ch 12:40), but sometimes, as before, pressed into cakes, named אֲשַׁישָׁה (2Sa 6:19; 1Ch 16:3; Song 2:5; Ho 3:1), understood by the Sept. as a sort of cake, λάγανον ἀπὸ τηγάνου, and by the A. V. as a "flagon of wine." Caked fruit forms a part of the daily food of the Arabians, and is particularly adapted to the wants of travelers; dissolved in water it affords a sweet and refreshing drink (Niebuhr, Arabia, p. 57; Russell, Aleppo, 1:82); an instance of its stimulating effect is recorded in 1Sa 30:12. Apples (perhaps citrons) are occasionally noticed, but rather in reference to their fragrance (Song 2:5; Song 7:8) and color (Pr 25:11) than as an article of food. Dates are not noticed in Scripture, unless we accept the rendering of קִיַוֹ in the Sept. (2 Samuel 1) as = φοίνικες; it can hardly be doubted, however, that, where the palm- tree flourished, as in the neighborhood of Jericho, its fruit was consumed; in Joe 1:12 it is reckoned among other trees valuable for their fruit. The pomegranate tree is also noticed by Joel; it yields a luscious fruit, from which a species of wine was expressed (Song 8:2; Hag 2:19). Melons were grown in Egypt (Nu 11:5), but not in Palestine. The mulberry is undoubtedly mentioned in Lu 17:6 under the name συκάμινος; the Hebrew בּכָאַים so translated (2Sa 5:23; 1Ch 14:14) is rather doubtful; the Vulg. takes it to mean pears. The συκομωραία (A. V. "sycomore," Lu 19:4) differs from the tree last mentioned; it was the Egyptian fig, which abounded in Palestine (1Ki 10:27), and was much valued for its fruit (1Ch 27:28; Am 7:14). SEE APPLE; SEE CITRON; SEE FIG; SEE MULBERRY-TREE; SEE POMEGRANATE; SEE SYCAMINE-TREE; SEE SYCAMORE.
Of vegetables (q.v.) we have most frequent notice of lentils (Ge 25:34; 2Sa 17:28; 2Sa 23:11; Eze 4:9), which are still largely used by the Bedouins in traveling (Burckhardt, Arabia, 1:65); beans (2Sa 17:28; Eze 4:9), which still form a favorite dish in Egypt and Arabia for breakfast, boiled in water and eaten with butter and pepper; from 2 Samuel 27:28 it might be inferred that beans and other kinds of pulse were roasted, as barley was, but the second קָלַי in that verse is probably interpolated, not appearing in the Sept., and, even if it were not so, the reference to pulse in the A. V., as of cicer in the Vulg., is wholly unwarranted; cucumbers (Nu 11:5; Isa 1:8; Bar. 6:70; comp. 2Ki 4:39, where wild gourds, cucumeres asinini, were picked in mistake for cucumbers); leeks, onions, and garlick, which were and still are of a superior quality in Egypt (Nu 11:5; comp. Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 2:374; Lane, 1:251); lettuce, of which the wild species, lactuca agrestis, is identified with the Greek πικρίς by Pliny (21. 65), and formed, according to the Sept. and the Vulg., the "bitter herbs" (מרֹרַים) eaten with the paschal lamb (Ex 12:8; Nu 9:11); endive, which is still well known in the East (Russell, 1:91), may have been included under the same class. In addition to the above we have notice of certain "herbs" (אוֹרוֹת, 2Ki 4:39) eaten in times of scarcity, which were mallows according to the Syriac and Arabic versions, but, according to the Talmud, a vegetable resembling the brassica eruca of Linnaus; and again of sea-purslane (מִלּוּחִ; ἄλιμα; A. V. "mallows"), and broom-root (רתָמַים; A. V. "juniper," Job 30:4), as eaten by the poor in time of famine, unless the latter were gathered as fuel. An insipid plant, probably purslane, used in salad, appears to be referred to in Job 6:6, under the expression רַיר חִלָּמוּת (A. V. "white of egg"). The usual method of eating vegetables was in the form of pottage (נָזַיד, Sept. ἔψημα, Vulg. pulmentum, Ge 25:29; 2Ki 4:38; Hag 2:12; a meal wholly of vegetables was deemed very poor fare, Pr 15:17; Da 1:12; Ro 14:2). The modern Arabians consume but few vegetables; radishes and leeks are most in use, and are eaten raw with bread (Burckhardt, Arabia, 1:56). SEE BEAN; SEE CUCUMBER; SEE GARLIC; SEE GOURD; SEE LEEK; SEE LENTIL; SEE ONION.
The spices or condiments known to the Hebrews were numerous; cummin (Isa 28:25; Mt 23:23), dill (Mt 23:23, "anise," A. V.), coriander (Ex 16:31; Nu 11:7), mint (Mt 23:23), rue (Lu 11:42), mustard (Mt 13:31; Mt 17:20), and salt (Job 6:6), which is reckoned among "the principal things for the whole use of man's life" (Ecclesiasticus 39:26). Nuts (pistachios) and almonds (Ge 43:11) were also used as whets to the appetite. SEE ALMOND; SEE ANISE; SEE CORIANDER; SEE CUMMIN; SEE MINT; SEE MUSTARD; SEE NUTS; SEE SPICES.
In addition to these classes, we have to notice some other important articles of food: in the first place, honey, whether the natural product of the bee (1Sa 14:25; Mt 3:4), which abounds in most parts of Arabia (Burckhardt, Arabia, 1:54), or the other natural and artificial productions included under that head, especially the dibs of the Syrians and Arabians, i.e. grape-juice boiled down to the state of the Roman defrutum, which is still extensively used in the East (Russell, 1:82); the latter is supposed to be referred to in Ge 43:11, and Eze 27:17. The importance of honey, as a substitute for sugar, is obvious; it was both used in certain kinds of cake (though prohibited in the case of meat offerings, Le 2:11), as in the pastry of the Arabs (Burckhardt, Arabia, 1:54), and was also eaten in its natural state either by itself (1Sa 14:27; 2Sa 17:29; 1Ki 14:3), or in conjunction with other things, even with fish (Lu 24:42). "Butter and honey" is an expression for rich diet (Isa 7:15,22); such a mixture is popular among the Arabs (Burckhardt, Arabia, 1:54). "Milk and honey" are similarly coupled together, not only frequently by the sacred writers, as expressive of the richness of the promised land, but also by the Greek poets (comp. Callim. Hymn in Jov. 48; Hom. Od. 20:68). Too much honey was deemed unwholesome (Pr 25:27). With regard to oil, it does not appear to have been used to the extent we might have anticipated; the modern Arabs only employ it in frying fish (Burckhardt, Arabia, 1:54), but for all other purposes butter is substituted: among the Hebrews it was deemed an expensive luxury (Pr 21:17), to be reserved for festive occasions (1Ch 12:40); it was chiefly used in certain kinds of cake (Le 2:5 sq.; 1Ki 17:12). "Oil and honey" are mentioned in conjunction with bread in Eze 16:13,19. The Syrians, especially the Jews, eat oil and honey (dibs) mixed together (Russell, 1:80). Eggs are not often noticed, but were evidently known as articles of food (Isa 10:14; Isa 59:5; Lu 11:12), and are reckoned by Jerome (In Epitaph. Paul. 1:176) among the delicacies of the table. SEE HONEY; SEE OIL.
The Orientals have been at all times sparing in the use of animal food; not only does the excessive heat of the climate render it both unwholesome to eat much meat (Niebuhr, Descript. p. 46), and expensive from the necessity of immediately consuming a whole animal, but beyond this the ritual regulations of the Mosaic law in ancient, as of the Koran in modern times, have tended to the same result. It has been inferred from Ge 9:3-4, that animal food was not permitted before the Flood; but the notices of the flock of Abel (Ge 4:2), and of the herds of Jabal (Ge 4:20), as well as the distinction, between clean and unclean animals (Ge 7:2), favor the opposite opinion; and the permission in Ge 9:3 may be held to be only a more explicit declaration of a condition implied in the grant of universal dominion previously given (Ge 1:28). The prohibition then expressed against consuming the blood of any animal (Ge 9:4) was more fully developed in the Levitical law, and enforced by the penalty of death (Le 3:17; Le 7:26; Le 19:26; De 12:16; 1Sa 14:32 sq.; Eze 44:7,15), on the ground, as stated in Le 17:11, and De 12:23, that the blood contained the principle of life, and, as such, was to be offered on the altar; probably there was an additional reason in the heathen practice of consuming blood in their sacrifices (Ps 16:4; Eze 33:25). The prohibition applied to strangers as well as Israelites, and to every kind of beast or fowl (Le 7:26; Le 17:12-13). So strong was the feeling of the Jews on this point, that the Gentile converts to Christianity were laid under similar restrictions (Ac 15:20,29; Ac 21:25). As a necessary deduction from the above principle, all animals which had died a natural death (נבֵלָה, De 14:21), or had been torn by beasts (טרֵפָה, Ex 22:31), were also prohibited (Le 17:15; comp. Eze 4:14), and to be thrown to the dogs (Ex 22:31): this prohibition did not extend to strangers (De 14:21). Any person infringing this rule was held unclean until the evening, and was obliged to wash his clothes (Le 17:15). In the N.T. these cases are described under the term πνικτόν (Ac 15:20), applying not only to what was strangled (as in A. V.), but to any animal from which the blood was not regularly poured forth. Similar prohibitions are contained in the Koran (ii. 175; v. 4; 16:116), the result of which is that at the present day the Arabians eat no meat except what has been bought at the shambles. Certain portions of the fat of sacrifices were also forbidden (Le 3:9-10), as being set apart for the altar (Le 3:16; Le 7:25; comp. 1Sa 2:16 sq.; 2Ch 7:7): it should be observed that the term in Ne 8:10, translated fat, is not חֵלֶב, but מִשׁמִנַּים = the fatty pieces of meat, delicacies. In addition to the above, Christians were forbidden to eat the flesh of animals, portions of which had been offered to idols (εἰδωλόθυτα), whether at private feasts or as bought in the market (Ac 15:29; Ac 21:25; 1Co 8:1 sq.). All beasts and birds classed as unclean (Le 11:1 sq. De 14:4 sq.) were also prohibited, SEE ANIMAL; SEE BIRD; and in addition to these general precepts there was a special prohibition against 'seething a kid in his mother's milk" (Ex 23:19; Ex 34:26; De 14:21), which has been variously understood, by Talmudical writers, as a general prohibition against the joint use of meat and milk (Mishna, Cholgn, cap. 8, § 1); by Michaelis (Mos. Recht, 4:210) as prohibiting the use of fat or milk, in comparison with oil, in cooking; by Luther and Calvin as prohibiting the slaughter of young animals; and by Bochart and others as discountenancing cruelty in any way. These interpretations, however, all fail in establishing any connection between the precept and the offering of the first-fruits, as implied in the three passages quoted. More probably it has reference to certain heathen usages at their harvest festivals (Maimonides, More Neboch. 3, 48; Spencer, De Legg. Hebr. Ritt. p. 535 sq.): there is a remarkable addition in the Samaritan version, and in some copies of the Sept. in De 14:21, which supports this view; ὃς γὰρ ποιεῖ τοῦτο, ὡσεὶ ἀσπάλακα θύσει, ὅτι μίασμά ἐστι τù θεù Ι᾿ακώβ (comp. Knobel, Comment. in Exod. 23:19). The Hebrews further abstained from eating the sinew of the hip (גַּיד הִנָּשֶׁה, Ge 32:32), in memory of the struggle between Jacob and the angel (comp. ver. 25). The Sept., the Vulg., and the A. V. interpret the ἃπαξ λεγόμενον word nasheh of the shrinking or benumbing of the muscle (ὸ ἐνάρκησεν; qui emarcuit; "which shrank"): Josephus (Ant. 1:20, 2) more correctly explains it as "the broad nerve" (τὸ νεῦρον τὸ πλατύ); and there is little doubt that the nerve he refers to is the nervus ischiadicus, which attains its greatest thickness at the hip. There is no further reference to this custom in the Bible; but the Talmudists (Cholin, 7) enforced its observance by penalties. SEE MEAT.
Under these restrictions the Hebrews were permitted the free use of animal food: generally speaking, they only availed themselves of it in the exercise of hospitality (Ge 18:7), or at festivals of a religious (Ex 12:8), public (1Ki 1:9; 1Ch 12:40), or private character (Ge 27:4; Lu 15:23); it was only in royal households that there was a daily consumption of meat (1Ki 4:23; Nahum 5:18). The use of meat is reserved for similar occasions among the Bedouins (Burckhardt's Notes, 1:63). The animals killed for meat were calves (Ge 18:7; 1Sa 28:24; Am 6:4), which are farther described by the term fatling (מרַיא = μόσχος σιτευτός, Lu 15:23, and σιτιστόν, Mt 22:4; 2Sa 6:13; 1Ki 1:9 sq.; A. V. "fat cattle"); lambs (2Sa 12:4; Am 6:4); oxen, not above three years of age (1Ki 1:9; Pr 15:17; Isa 22:13; Mt 22:4), which were either stall-fed (בּרַאַים; Sept. μ-σχοι ἐκλεκτοί), or taken up from the pastures (רעַי; Scpt. βόες νομάδες; 1Ki 4:23); kids (Ge 27:9; Jg 6:19; 1Sa 16:20); harts, roebucks, and fallow-deer (1Ki 4:23), which are also brought into close connection with ordinary cattle in De 14:5, as though holding an intermediate place between tame and wild animals; birds of various kinds (צַפַּרַים; Auth. Ver. "fowls;" Ne 5:18; the Sept., however, gives χίμαρος, as though the reading were
צפַּירַים); quail in certain parts of Arabia (Ex 16:13; Nu 11:32); poultry (בִּרבֻּרַים; 1Ki 4:23; understood generally by the Sept. -ρνίθων ἐκλεκτῶν σιτευτά; by Kimchi and the A. V. as "fatted fowl;" by Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 246, as geese, from the whiteness of their plumage; by Thenius, Comm. in loc., as Guinea-fowls, as though the word represented the call of that bird); partridges (1Sa 26:20); fish, with the exception of such as were without scales and fins (Le 11:9; De 14:9), both salted, as was probably the case with the sea- fish brought to Jerusalem (Ne 13:16), and fresh (Mt 14:19; Mt 15:36; Lu 24:42): in our Savior's time it appears to have been the usual food about the Sea of Galilee (Mt 7:10); the term - ψάριον is applied to it by John (vi. 9; 21:9 sq.) in the restricted sense which the word obtained among the later Greeks, as = fish. Locusts, of which certain species only were esteemed clean (Le 11:22), were occasionally eaten (Mt 3:4), but considered as poor fare. They are at the present day largely consumed by the poor both in Persia (Morier's Second Journey, p. 44) and in Arabia (Niebuhr, Voyage, 1:319); they are salted and dried, and roasted, when required, on a frying-pan with butter (Burckhardt's Notes, 2:92; Niebuhr, 1. c.). SEE LOCUST.
Meat does not appear ever to have been eaten by itself; various accompaniments are noticed in Scripture, as bread, milk, and sour milk (Ge 18:8); bread and broth (Jg 6:19); and with fish either bread (Mt 14:19; Mt 15:36; Joh 21:9) or honeycomb (Lu 24:42): the instance in 2Sa 6:19 cannot be relied on, as the term אֶשׁפָּר, rendered in the A. V. a good piece of flesh, after the Vulg., assatura bibulae carnis, means simply a portion or measure, and may apply to wine as well as meat. For the modes of preparing meat, SEE COOKING; and for the times and manner of eating, MEALS; SEE FISH, SEE FOWL, etc.
To pass from ordinary to occasional sources of subsistence: prison diet consisted of bread and water administered in small quantities (1Ki 22:27; Jer 37:21); pulse and water was considered but little better (Da 1:12): in time of sorrow or fasting it was usual to abstain either altogether from food (2Sa 12:17,20), or from meat, wine, and other delicacies, which were described as לֶחֶם חֲמוּדוֹת, literally bread of desires (Da 10:3). In time of extreme famine the most loathsome food was swallowed, such as an ass's head (2Ki 6:25), the ass, it must be remembered, being an unclean animal (for a parallel case, comp. Plutarch, Artaxerx. 24), and dove's dung (see the article on that subject), the dung of cattle (Josephus, War, 5:13, 7), and even possibly their own dung (2Ki 18:27). The consumption of human flesh was not altogether unknown (2Ki 6:28; comp. Josephus, War, 6:3, 4), the passages quoted supplying instances of the exact fulfillment of the prediction in De 28:56-57; comp. also La 2:20; La 4:10; Eze 5:10. SEE FOOD.
With regard to the beverages used by the Hebrews, we have already mentioned milk, and the probable use of barley-water, and of a mixture, resembling the modern sherbet, formed of fig-cake and water. Tho Hebrews probably resembled the Arabs in not drinking much during their meals, but concluding them with a long draught of water. It is almost needless to say that water was most generally drunk. In addition to these, the Hebrews were acquainted with various intoxicating liquors, the most valued of which was the juice of the grape, while others were described under the general term of shekar, or strong drink (Le 10:9; Nu 6:3; Jg 13:4,7), if, indeed, the latter does not sometimes include the former (Nu 28:7). These were reserved for the wealthy, or for festive occasions; the poor consumed a sour wine (A.V. "vinegar;" Ru 2:14; Mt 27:48), calculated to quench thirst, but not agreeable to the taste (Pr 10:26). SEE BEVERAGE.