I have long had a bread machine, but it went unused for most of my working career – too much to do, overtime, documents to read and cases to research.
All that changed after retirement. I have been having a grand time making homemade bread, dinner rolls, and breakfast sweet breads (this latter needs more practice before I serve it to anyone other than my beloved Husband!).
After making two loaves of light rye and one loaf of white bread, I sat down to eat a slice of the rye and, as I was munching on it, I thought of bread in the scriptures.
What exactly was bread in the scriptures? It was as important to the ancient people and cultures as it is to us today.
In the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, we find that Joseph oversaw storing the grain before the severe famine was to hit the area.
“During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it. And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.”
Grain makes bread, and bread sustains the people. Grain in scriptures included barley, millet, and wheat. The King James Version of scripture uses the word “corn” while the Hebrew definition focuses on wheat, cereal and grain.
For example, we read in the giving of the Law:
“If a man dedicates to the LORD part of the land that is his possession, then the valuation shall be in proportion to its seed. A homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.”
Leviticus 27:16 (By the way, a “homer” is about 6 bushels.)
The beautiful book of Ruth speaks of barley as well:
“So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.”
Exodus 9:32 (KJV) speaks of “rie” as being in the field, but it is believed that this was not something that we would use today to make “rye” bread; rather, scholars think this more likely to be spelt or emmer which is another type of wheat.
God called Gideon in Judges Chapter 6 while Gideon was beating out the wheat in the winepress in an effort to hide the grain from invading Midianites. And, in Judges Chapter 15 we read that Samson went to visit his wife during the wheat harvest. Indeed, wheat is often referenced in the Old Testament.
This is a picture of a bread pan that was from Lachish (ca, fifteenth century B.C.).
This pan may have been used for forming cakes of bread or it could actually have been used for baking the bread. Leviticus 2:5 says:
“And if your offering is a grain offering baked on a griddle, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mixed with oil.”
Leviticus 2:5. This is the ESV translation; the KJV translation uses the word “pan” instead of “griddle”. Whether we would consider this a pan or a griddle, the picture gives evidence of what the ancient people making bread actually used. We certainly can relate to this activity even though several millennia have passed since this pan was used.
Jesus used wheat in his discourses with the disciples such as we find in Matthew 13. One of the parables taught by Jesus referenced the man who sowed good seed in his field, only to have his enemies plant weeds among the seeds. The owner left the field alone and all the plants grew until harvest when it was easy to identify the good wheat from the bad weeds. Later in the chapter, Jesus explained the parable to the disciples, saying that the weeds were the evil ones, but the wheat represented those in the kingdom of God.
We also read Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:11 where He is teaching the disciples to pray when He said:
“Give us this day our daily bread, …”
The hearers would have understood that bread was a staple of the Hebrew diet. They milled and sifted grain, usually wheat but also barley. They made it into dough, kneading it and forming the dough into thin cakes which were then baked. They also would have understood Jesus’ prayer for bread with the broadened meaning of food in general.
For me, the primary reference that comes to my mind when I think of scripture and bread is Jesus’ I AM teaching:
“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
People understand that bread is life-giving; it is life-saving; it is food; and it represents the fact that food is fundamental to our well-being. We must have physical food or we will die, it is “as simple as that!”
In like manner, we cannot spiritually be alive without the food of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the Bread of life, both here and for eternity. He handles our longing for spiritual food and gives us the Holy Spirit as our comforter and guide. We must feast on the Word of God or we will die, this too is “as simple as that!”
Next time you pick up a slice of bread, stop and thank Him for being your Bread of Life!
“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
Father, thank You for providing Your Son for our salvation and for an abundant life now and evermore. May I always look to my Savior and rely on His direction and guidance so that I will bring glory to Your Holy Name.