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).
An excellent account, perhaps the best, is
to be found in DB, i, 315-319. Consult also: E. Robinson,
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.