(Heb. תִּנּוּר, tannur', from the same root with the Chaldee תּנִן to smoke, Gr. κλίβανος), originally any receptacle for fire, as a furnace or kiln (comp. Ge 15:17; Isa 31:9); but usually an oven for baking bread and cakes (see Ex 7:25; Le 2:4), not only that used by the baker (Ho 7:4,6-7), but also that in which the mistress of a house baked her bread (Le 26:26; and see Jahn. Bibl. Archaeol. 1:213; 2,182). This oven was built of brick, and was smeared within and without with clay. A fire. was kindled within it, and the dough was placed upon the side, where it baked, and was called מִאֲפֵה תִּנּוּר, maapheh tannur (Le 2:4). The κλίβανος of the Greeks appears to have been of a similar construction. Each household possessed such an article (Ex 8:3), and it was only in times of extreme dearth that the same oven sufficed for several families (Le 26:26). It was heated with dry twigs and grass (Mt 6:30), and the loaves were placed both inside and outside of it. It was also used for roasting meat (Mishna, Taan. 3:8). The heat of the oven furnished Hebrew writers with an image of rapid and violent destruction (Ps 21:9; Ho 7:7; Mal 4:1). But the Hebrews did not always possess such an oven, and often seem to have baked their bread on the ground, which was first heated by a fire, or on thin plates of metal, and sometimes to have made an excavation in the earth, which answered the purpose (see Gesenius, Thesaur. s.v. תִּנּוּר). SEE BAKE.
Among the modern Orientals the dough, when prepared, is not always baked at home. In towns there are public ovens and bakers by trade; and although the general rule in large and respectable families is to bake the bread at home, much bread is bought of the bakers by unsettled individuals and poor persons; and many small households send their dough to be baked at the public oven, the baker receiving for his trouble a portion of the baked bread, which he adds to his day's stock of bread for sale. Such public ovens and bakers by trade must have existed anciently in Palestine, and in the East generally, as is evident from Ho 7:4 and Jer 37:21. The latter text mentions the bakers' street (or, rather, bakers' place or market), and this would suggest that, as is the case at present, the bakers, as well as other trades, had a particular part of the bazaar or market entirely appropriated to their business, instead of being dispersed in different parts of the towns where they lived. SEE CRACKNEL.
For their larger operations the bakers have ovens of brick, not altogether unlike our own; and in large houses there are similar ovens. The ovens used in domestic baking are, however, usually of a portable description, and are large vessels of stone, earthenware, or copper, inside of which, when properly heated, small loaves and cakes are baked, and on the outer surface of which thin flaps of bread, or else a large wafer-like biscuit, may be prepared. This is adapted to the nomad state, and is the article generally intended by the Hebrew term tannur. It usually consists of a large jar made, of clay, about three feet high, and widening towards the bottom, with a hole for the extraction of the ashes (Niebuhr, Desc. de l'Arab. p. 46). Occasionally, however, it is not an actual jar, but an erection of clay in the form of a jar, built on the floor of the house (Wellsted, Travels, 1:350). The oven is frequently covered with a chimney made of mud, to create a draught.
Another mode of making bread is much used, especially in the villages. A pit is sunk in the middle of the floor of the principal room, about four or five feet deep by three in diameter, well lined with compost or cement.
When sufficiently heated by a fire kindled at the bottom, the bread is made by the thin pancake-like flaps of dough being, by a peculiar knack of hand in the women, stuck against the oven, to which they adhere for a few moments, till they are sufficiently dressed. As this oven requires considerable fuel, it is seldom used except in those parts where that article is somewhat abundant, and where the winter cold is severe enough to render the warmth of the oven desirable, not only for baking bread, but for warming the apartment. SEE FURNACE.
Another sort of oven, or rather mode of baking, is much in use among the pastoral tribes. A shallow hole, about six inches deep by three or four feet in diameter, is made in the ground; this is filled up with dry brushwood, upon which, when kindled, pebbles are thrown to concentrate and retain the heat. Meanwhile the dough is prepared, and when the oven is sufficiently heated the ashes and pebbles are removed, and the spot well cleaned out. The dough is then deposited in the hollow, and is left there over night. The cakes thus baked are about two fingers thick, and are very palatable. There can be little doubt that this kind of oven and mode of baking bread were common among the Jews. Hence Hezel very ingeniously, if not truly, conjectures (Real-Lexikon, s. Vo Brod) comes the סִלֵּי חוֹרַי (salley choriy, Sept. κανᾶ χονδριτῶν, Vulg. canistra Jarin(e), hole-bread baskets, of Ge 40:16, which he renders, or rather paraphrases, "baskets full of bread baked in holes," not "white baskets", SEE BASKET, as in the A.V., nor baskets full of holes," as in our margin; nor "white bread," as in most of the Continental versions, seeing that all bread is white in the East. As the process is slower and the bread more savory than any other, this kind of bread might certainly be entitled to the distinction implied in its being prepared for the table of the Egyptian king.
⇒See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
There is a baking utensil called in Arabic tajen, which is the same word (τηγάνον) by which the Sept. renders the Heb. מִחֲבִת (miachabhadth), "pan" in Le 2:5, etc. This leaves little doubt that the ancient Hebrews had this tajen. It is a sort of pan of earthenware or iron (usually the latter), flat, or slightly convex, which is put over a slow fire, and on which the thin flaps of dough are laid and baked with considerable expedition, although only one cake can be baked in this way at a time. This is not a household mode of preparing bread, but is one of the simple and primitive processes employed by the wandering and semi-wandering tribes, shepherds, husbandmen, and others, who have occasion to prepare a small quantity of daily bread in an easy, off-hand manner. Bread is also baked in a manner which, although apparently very different, is but a modification of the principle of the tajen, and is used chiefly in the. houses of the peasantry. There is a cavity in the fire-hearth, in which, when required for baking, a fire is kindled and burned down to hot embers. A plate of iron, or sometimes copper, is placed over the hole, and on this the bread is baked. SEE BREAD.
Another mode of baking is in use chiefly among the pastoral tribes, and by travelers in the open country, but is not unknown in the villages. A smooth, clear spot is chosen in the loose ground, a sandy soil — so common in the Eastern deserts and harder lands — being preferred. On this a fire is kindled, and when the ground is sufficiently heated the embers and ashes are raked aside, and the dough is laid on the heated spot, and then covered over with the glowing embers and ashes which had just been removed. The bread is several times turned, and in less than half an hour is sufficiently baked. Bread thus baked is called in Scripture עֻגָּה (uggah), "cake" (Ge 18:6; 1Ki 17:13; Eze 4:12, etc.), and the indication 1Ki 19:6 is very clear, "cake baken on the coals" (coal- cakes), i.e. cakes baked under the coals. The Sept. expresses this word very fairly by ἐγκρυφίαι, panis subcinericius (Ge 18:6; Ex 12:39). According to Busbequius (Itin. p. 36), the name of Ilugath, which he interprets ash-cakes, or ash-bread, was in his time still applied in Bulgaria to cakes prepared in this fashion; and as soon as a stranger arrived in the village the women baked such bread in all haste, in order to sell it to him. This conveys an interesting illustration of Ge 16:6, where Sarah, on the arrival of three strangers, was required to bake "quickly" such ash-bread though not for sale, but for the hospitable entertainment of the unknown travelers. The bread thus prepared is good and palatable, although the outer rind, or crust, is apt to smell and taste of the smoke and ashes. The necessity of turning these cakes gives a satisfactory explanation of Ho 7:8, where Ephraim is compared to a cake not turned, i.e. only baked on one side, while the other is raw and adhesive. SEE ASH-CAKE.