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Bible Concordance
Meals (8 Occurrences)

Matthew 15:2 "Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the Elders by not washing their hands before meals?" (WEY)

Mark 6:31 Then He said to them, "Come away, all of you, to a quiet place, and rest awhile." For there were many coming and going, so that they had no time even for meals. (WEY)

Luke 15:2 and this led the Pharisees and the Scribes indignantly to complain, saying, "He gives a welcome to notorious sinners, and joins them at their meals!" (WEY)

Acts 2:46 And, day by day, attending constantly in the Temple with one accord, and breaking bread in private houses, they took their meals with great happiness and single-heartedness, (WEY NAS)

1 Corinthians 11:22 What? have you not houses to take your meals in? or have you no respect for the church of God, putting the poor to shame? What am I to say to you? am I to give you praise? certainly not. (BBE)

2 Samuel 9:13 So Mephibosheth went on living in Jerusalem; for he took all his meals at the king's table; and he had not the use of his feet. (BBE)

2 Kings 25:29 and changed his prison garments. Jehoiachin ate bread before him continually all the days of his life: (See NAS)

Jeremiah 52:33 and changed his prison garments. Jehoiachin ate bread before him continually all the days of his life: (See NAS)

Meals (8 Occurrences)
... been largely introduced of having broad couches, forming three sides of a small
square, the guests reclining at ease on their elbows during meals, with their ...
/m/meals.htm - 27k

Board (47 Occurrences)
... 3. (n.) Hence: What is served on a table as food; stated meals; provision;
entertainment; -- usually as furnished for pay; as, to work for one's board; the ...
/b/board.htm - 23k

Banquet (58 Occurrences)
... John 12:2). These meals were in the days of Christ usually called "suppers," after
the custom of the Romans, and were partaken of toward the close of the day. ...
/b/banquet.htm - 36k

... Noah Webster's Dictionary 1. (n.) A couch for reclining at meals, extending round
three sides of a table, and usually in three parts. ... See MEALS, III. ...
/t/triclinium.htm - 8k

... 1. The Name and the Thing: The name Agape or "love-feast," as an expression denoting
the brotherly common meals of the early church, though of constant use and ...
/a/agape.htm - 15k

Mealtime (1 Occurrence)
... Noah Webster's Dictionary (n.) The usual time of eating a meal. Int. Standard
Bible Encyclopedia. MEALS, MEAL-TIME. ... II. Meals, Meal-Time, etc. ...
/m/mealtime.htm - 24k

Meal-time (1 Occurrence)
Meal-time. << Mealtime, Meal-time. Mean >>. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
MEALS, MEAL-TIME. melz: Bread ... II. Meals, Meal-Time, etc. (1) It ...
/m/meal-time.htm - 24k

Tables (41 Occurrences)
... Easton's Bible Dictionary (Mark 7:4) means banqueting-couches or benches, on which
the Jews reclined when at meals. ... (see ABRAHAM'S BOSOM; BANQUET; MEALS.). ...
/t/tables.htm - 20k

Dinner (23 Occurrences)
... Luke 14:12; compare Ruth 2:14 John 21:13): In oriental as in classical lands it
was customary, in ancient times, as now, to have but two meals in the day, and ...
/d/dinner.htm - 15k

Woman (4043 Occurrences)
... Among the Hebrews it devolved upon women to prepare the meals for the household
(Genesis 18:6; 2 Samuel 13:8), to attend to the work of spinning (Exodus 35:26 ...
/w/woman.htm - 45k

5160. trophe -- nourishment, food
... Word Origin from trepho Definition nourishment, food NASB Word Usage enough*
(1), food (13), meals (1), support (1). food, meat. ...
/greek/5160.htm - 6k

2621. katakeimai -- to lie down, recline
... lay (1), lying (4), lying sick (1), reclining (4). recline, lie, sit down at
meals. From kata and keimai; to lie down, ie (by implication ...
/greek/2621.htm - 7k

2625. kataklino -- to make to lie down
... make lie down or recline at meals. From kata and klino; to recline down, ie (specially)
to take a place at table -- (make) sit down (at meat). see GREEK kata. ...
/greek/2625.htm - 6k

2825. kline -- a small couch
... Spelling: (klee'-nay) Short Definition: a couch, bed, mat, bier Definition: a couch,
bed, portable bed or mat, a couch for reclining at meals, possibly also a ...
/greek/2825.htm - 6k

4411. protoklisia -- the chief place (at the table)
... From protos and klisia; a reclining first (in the place of honor) at the
dinner-bed, ie Preeminence at meals -- chief (highest, uppermost) room. ...
/greek/4411.htm - 6k

Smith's Bible Dictionary

Our information on the subject of meals is but scanty. The early Hebrews do not seem to have given special names to their several meals, for the terms rendered "dine" and "dinner" in the Authorized Version ((Genesis 43:16; Proverbs 15:17)) are in reality general expressions, which might more correctly be rendered "eat" and "portion of food." In the New Testament "dinner" and "supper," (Luke 14:12; John 21:12) are more properly "breakfast" and "dinner." There is some uncertainty as to the hours at which meals were taken; the Egyptians undoubtedly took their principal mean at noon, (Genesis 43:16) laborers took a light meal at that time. (Ruth 2:14) comp. ver. Ruth 2:17 The Jews rather followed the custom that prevails among the Bedouins, and made their principal meal after sunset, and a lighter meal at about 9 or 10 A.M. The old Hebrews were in the habit of sitting . (Genesis 27:19; Judges 19:6; 1 Samuel 20:5,24; 1 Kings 13:20) The table was in this case but slightly elevated above the ground, as is still the case in Egypt. As luxury increased, the practice of sitting was exchanged for that of reclining was the universal custom. As several guests reclined on the same couch, each overlapped his neighbor, as it were, and rested his head on or near the breast of the one who lay behind him; he was then said to "lean on the bosom" of his neighbor. (John 13:23; 21:20) The ordinary arrangement of the couches was in three sides of a square, the fourth being left open for the servants to bring up the dishes. Some doubt attends the question whether the females took their meals along with the males. Before commencing the meal the guests washed their hands. This custom was founded on natural decorum: not only was the hand the substitute for our knife and for, but the hands of all the guests were dipped into one and the same dish. Another preliminary step was the grace or blessing, of which we have but one instance in the Old Testament -- (1 Samuel 9:13) --and more than one pronounced by our Lord himself in the new Testament --Matt 15:36; Luke 9:16; John 6:11 The mode of taking the food differed in no material point from the modern usages of the East. Generally there was a single dish, into which each guest dipped his hand. (Matthew 26:23) Occasionally separate portions were served out to each. (Genesis 43:34; Ruth 2:14; 1 Samuel 1:4) A piece of bread was held between the thumb and two fingers of the right hand, and was dipped either into a bowl of melted grease (in which case it was termed "a sop,") (John 13:26) or into the dish of meat, whence a piece was conveyed to the mouth between the layers of bread. At the conclusion of the meal, grace was again said in conformity with (8:10) and the hands were again washed. On state occasions more ceremony was used, and the meal was enlivened in various ways. A sumptuous repast was prepared; the guests were previously invited, (Esther 5:8; Matthew 22:3) and on the day of the feast a second invitation was issued to those that were bidden. (Esther 6:14; Proverbs 9:3; Matthew 22:4) The visitors were received with a kiss, (Luke 7:45) water was furnished for them to wash their feet with, (Luke 7:44) the head, the beard, the feet, and sometimes the clothes, were perfumed with ointment, (Psalms 23:5; John 12:3) on special occasions robes were provided, (Matthew 22:11) and the head was decorated with wreaths. (Isaiah 28:1) The regulation of the feast was under the superintendence of a special officer, (John 2:8) (Authorized Version "governor of the feast"), whose business it was to taste the food and the liquors before they were placed on the table, and to settle about the toasts and amusements; he was generally one of the guests, Ecclus. 32:1,2, and might therefore take part in the conversation. The places of the guests were settled according to their respective rand, (Genesis 43:33; Mark 12:39) portions of food were placed before each, (1 Samuel 1:4) the most honored guests receiving either larger, (Genesis 43:34) or more choice, (1 Samuel 9:24) portions than the rest. The meal was enlivened with music, singing and dancing, (2 Samuel 19:35) or with riddles, (Judges 14:12) and amid these entertainments the festival was prolonged for several days. (Esther 1:3,4)

ATS Bible Dictionary


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

melz: Bread materials, bread-making and baking in the Orient are dealt with under BREAD (which see). For food-stuffs in use among the Hebrews in Bible times more specifically see FOOD. This article aims to be complementary, dealing especially with the methods of preparing and serving food and times of meals among the ancient Hebrews.

The Book of Judges gives a fair picture of the early formative period of the Hebrew people and their ways of living. It is a picture of semi-savagery-of the life and customs of free desert tribes. In 1 Samuel we note a distinct step forward, but the domestic and cultural life is still low and crude. When they are settled in Palestine and come in contact with the most cultured people of the day, the case is different. Most that raised these Semitic invaders above the dull, crude existence of fellahin, in point of civilization, was due to the people for whom the land was named (Macalister, Hist of Civilization in Pal). From that time on various foreign influences played their several parts in modification of Hebrew life and customs. A sharp contrast illustrative of the primitive beginnings and the growth of luxury in Israel in the preparation and use of foods may be seen by a comparison of 2 Samuel 17:28 with 1 Kings 4:22 f.

I. Methods of Preparing Food.

1. Cereals:

The most primitive way of using the cereals was to pluck the fresh ears (Leviticus 23:14 2 Kings 4:42), remove the husk by rubbing (compare Deuteronomy 23:25 and Matthew 12:1), and eat the grain raw. A practice common to all periods, observed by fellahin today, was to parch or roast the ears and eat them not ground. Later it became customary to grind the grain into flour, at first by the rudimentary method of pestle and mortar (Numbers 11:8; compare Proverbs 27:22), later by the hand-mill (Exodus 11:5 Job 31:10; compare Matthew 24:41), still later in mills worked by the ass or other animal (Matthew 18:6, literally, "a millstone turned by an ass"). The flour was then made into bread, with or without leaven.


Another simple way of preparing the grain was to soak it in water, or boil it slightly, and then, after drying and crushing it, to serve it as the dish called "groats" is served among western peoples.

The kneading of the dough preparatory to baking was done doubtless, as it is now in the East, by pressing it between the hands or by passing it from hand to hand; except that in Egypt, as the monuments show, it was put in "baskets" and trodden with the feet, as grapes in the wine press. (This is done in Paris bakeries to this day.)


2. Vegetables:

Lentils, several kinds of beans, and a profusion of vegetables, wild and cultivated, were prepared and eaten in various ways. The lentils were sometimes roasted, as they are today, and eaten like "parched corn." They were sometimes stewed like beans, and flavored with onions and other ingredients, no doubt, as we find done in Syria today (compare Genesis 25:29, 34), and sometimes ground and made into bread (Ezekiel 4:9; compare Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palastina-Vereins, IX, 4). The wandering Israelites in the wilderness looked back wistfully on the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic of Egypt (Numbers 11:5), and later we find all of these used for food in Palestine How many other things were prepared and used for food by them may be gathered from the Mishna, our richest source of knowledge on the subject.

3. Meat:

The flesh of animals-permission to eat which it would seem was first given to Noah after the deluge (Genesis 1:29; Genesis 9:3 f)-was likewise prepared and used in various ways:

(a) Roasting was much in vogue, indeed was probably the oldest of all methods of preparing such food. At first raw meat was laid upon hot stones from which the embers had been removed, as in the case of the "cake baken on the hot stones" (1 Kings 19:6 the Revised Version margin; compare Hosea 7:8, "a cake not turned"), and sometimes underneath with a covering of ashes. The fish that the disciples found prepared for them by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:9) was, in exception to this rule, cooked on the live coals themselves. A more advanced mode of roasting was by means of a spit of green wood or iron (for baking in ovens, see FOOD).

(b) Boiling was also common (see Genesis 25:29 Exodus 12:9, etc., the American Standard Revised Version; English Versions of the Bible more frequently "seething," "sod," "sodden"), as it is in the more primitive parts of Syria today. The pots in which the boiling was done were of earthenware or bronze (Leviticus 6:28). When the meat was boiled in more water than was required for the ordinary "stew" the result was the broth (Judges 6:19 f), and the meat and the broth might then be served separately. The usual way, however, was to cut the meat into pieces, larger or smaller as the case might demand (1 Samuel 2:13 Ezekiel 24:3; compare Micah's metaphor, Micah 3:3), and put these pieces into the cooking-pot with water sufficient only for a stew. Vegetables and rice were generally added, though crushed wheat sometimes took the place of the rice, as in the case of the "savory meat" which Rebekah prepared for her husband from the "two kids of the goats" (Genesis 27:9). The seeds of certain leguminous plants were also often prepared by boiling (Genesis 25:29 2 Kings 4:38).

(c) The Hebrew housewives, we may be sure, were in such matters in no way behind their modern kinswomen of the desert, of whom Doughty tells: "The Arab housewives make savory messes of any grain, seething it and putting thereto only a little salt and samn (clarified butter)."

4. Oil:

Olive oil was extensively and variously used by the ancient Hebrews, as by most eastern peoples then, as it is now.

(a) Oriental cooking diverges here more than at any other point from that of the northern and western peoples, oil serving many of the purposes of butter and lard among ourselves.

(b) Oil was used in cooking vegetables as we use bacon and other animal fats, and in cooking fish and eggs, as sJso in the finer sorts of baking. See BREAD; FOOD; OIL.

(c) They even mixed oil with the flour, shaped it into cakes and then baked it (Leviticus 2:4). The "little oil" of the poor widow of Zerephath was clearly not intended for the lamps, but to bake her pitiful "handful of meal" (1 Kings 17:12).

(d) Again the cake of unmixed flour might be baked till almost done, then smeared with oil, sprinkled with anise seed, and brought by further baking to a glossy brown. A species of thin flat cakes of this kind are "the wafers anointed with oil" of Exodus 29:2, etc.

(e) Oil and honey constituted, as now in the East, a mixture used as we use butter and honey, and are found also mixed in the making of sweet cakes (Ezekiel 16:13, 19). The taste of the manna is said in Exodus 16:31 to be like that of "wafers made with honey," and in Numbers 11:8 to be like "the taste of cakes baked with oil" (Revised Version margin).

II. Meals, Meal-Time, etc.

(1) It was customary among the ancient Hebrews, as among their contemporaries in the East in classical lands, to have but two meals a day. The "morning morsel" or "early snack," as it is called in the Talmud, taken with some relish like olives, oil or melted butter, might be used by peasants, fishermen, or even artisans, to "break their fast" (see the one reference to it in the New Testament in John 21:12, 15), but this was not a true meal. It was rather ariston proinon (Robinson, BRP, II, 18), though some think it the ariston, of the New Testament (Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, II, 205, note 3; compare Plummer, International Critical Commentary, on Luke 11:37). To "eat a meal," i.e. a full meal, in the morning was a matter for grave reproach (Ecclesiastes 10:16), as early drinking was unusual and a sign of degradation (of Acts 2:15).

(2) The first meal (of "meal-time," literally, "the time of eating," Ruth 2:14 Genesis 43:16), according to general usage, was taken at or about noon when the climate and immemorial custom demanded a rest from labor. Peter's intended meal at Joppa, interrupted by the messengers of Cornelius, was at "the sixth hour," i.e. 12 M. It corresponded somewhat to our modern "luncheon," but the hour varied according to rank and occupation (Shabbath 10a). The Bedawi take it about 9 or 10 o'clock (Burckhardt, Notes, I, 69). It is described somewhat fully by Lane in Modern Egyptians. To abstain from this meal was accounted "fasting" (Judges 20:26 1 Samuel 14:24). Drummond (Tropical Africa) says his Negro bearers began the day's work without food.

(3) The second and main meal (New Testament, deipnon) was taken about the set of sun, or a little before or after, when the day's work was over and the laborers had "come in from the field" (Luke 17:7; Luke 24:29 f). This is the "supper time," the "great supper" of Luke 14:16, the important meal of the day, when the whole family were together for the evening (Burckhardt, Notes, I, 69). It was the time of the feeding of the multitudes by Jesus (Mark 6:35 Matthew 14:15 Luke 9:12), of the eating of the Passover, and of the partaking of the Lord's Supper. According to Jewish law, and for special reasons, the chief meal was at midday-"at the sixth hour," according to Josephus (Vita, 54; compare Genesis 43:16-25 2 Samuel 24:15 Septuagint). It was Yahweh's promise to Israel that they should have "bread" in the morning and "flesh" in the evening (Exodus 16:12), incidental evidence of one way in which the evening meal differed from that at noon. At this family meal ordinarily there was but one common dish for all, into which all "dipped the sop" (see Matthew 26:23 Mark 14:20), so that when the food, cooked in this common stew, was set before the household, the member of the household who had prepared it had no further work to do, a fact which helps to explain Jesus' words to Martha, `One dish alone is needful' (Luke 10:42; Hastings, Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, under the word "Meals").

(4) Sabbath banqueting became quite customary among the Jews (see examples cited by Lightfoot, Hor. Heb et Talmud on Luke 14:1; compare Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, II, 52, 437; Farrar, Life of Christ, II, 119, note). Indeed it was carried to such an excess that it became proverbial for luxury. But the principle which lay at the root of the custom was the honor of the Sabbath (Lightfoot, op. cit., III, 149), which may explain Jesus countenance and use of the custom (compare Luke 7:36; Luke 11:37; Luke 14:7-14), and the fact that on the last Sabbath He spent on earth before His passion He was the chief guest at such a festive meal (John 12:2). It is certain that He made use of such occasions to teach lessons of charity and religion, in one case even when His host was inclined to indulge in discourteous criticism (Luke 7:39; Luke 11:38, 45 f; compare John 12:7 f). He seems to have withheld His formal disapproval of what might be wrong in tendency in such feasts because of the latent possibilities for good He saw in them, and so often used them wisely and well. It was on one of these occasions that a fellow-guest in his enthusiasm broke out in the exclamation, "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God" (Luke 14:15), referring evidently to the popular Jewish idea that the Messianic kingdom was to be ushered in with a banquet, and that feasting was to be a chief part of its glories (compare Isaiah 25:6 Luke 13:29).


III. Customs at Meals.

In the earliest times the Hebrews took their meals sitting, or more probably squatting, on the ground like the Bedouin and fellahin of today (see Genesis 37:25, etc.), with the legs gathered tailor-fashion (Palestine Exploration Fund Statement, 1905, 124). The use of seats naturally followed upon the change from nomadic to agricultural life, after the conquest of Canaan. Saul and his mess-mates sat upon "seats" (1 Samuel 20:25), as did Solomon and his court (1 Kings 10:5; compare 1 Kings 13:20, etc.). With the growth of wealth and luxury under the monarchy, the custom of reclining at meals gradually became the fashion. In Amos' day it was regarded as an aristocratic innovation (Amos 3:12; Amos 6:4), but two centuries later Ezekiel speaks of "a stately bed" or "couch" (compare Esther 1:6 the Revised Version (British and American)) with "a table prepared before it" (Ezekiel 23:41), as if it was no novelty. By the end of the 3rd century B.C. it was apparently universal, except among the very poor (Judith 12:15; Tobit 2:1). Accordingly, "sitting at meat" in the New Testament (English Versions of the Bible) is everywhere replaced by "reclining" (Revised Version margin), though women and children still sat. They leaned on the left elbow (Sirach 41:19), eating with the right hand (see LORD'S SUPPER). The various words used in the Gospels to denote the bodily attitude at meals, as well as the circumstances described, all imply that the Syrian custom of reclining on a couch, followed by Greeks and Romans, was in vogue (Edersheim, II, 207). Luke uses one word for it which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament (kataklithenai, 7:36; 14:08; 24:30:00; and kataklinein, 9:14, 15), which Hobart says is the medical term for laying patients or causing them to lie in bed (Medical Language of Luke, 69). For costumes and customs at more elaborate feasts see BANQUET; DRESS. For details in the "minor morals" of the dinner table, see the classical passages (Sirach 31:12-18; 32:3-12), in which Jesus ben-Sira has expanded the counsel given in Proverbs 23:1; compare Kennedy in The 1-Volume Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, under the word "Meals."


Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah; O. Holtzmann, Eine Untersuchung zum Leben Jesu, English translation, 206; B. Weiss, The Life of Christ, II, 125, note 2; Plummer, International Critical Commentary, "Luke," 159 f; Farrar, Life of Christ; Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes), Hastings, Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, the 1-volume Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible; Encyclopedia Biblica; Jewish Encyclopedia, etc.

George B. Eager

Easton's Bible Dictionary
Are at the present day "eaten from a round table little higher than a stool, guests sitting cross-legged on mats or small carpets in a circle, and dipping their fingers into one large dish heaped with a mixture of boiled rice and other grain and meat. But in the time of our Lord, and perhaps even from the days of Amos (6:4, 7), the foreign custom had been largely introduced of having broad couches, forming three sides of a small square, the guests reclining at ease on their elbows during meals, with their faces to the space within, up and down which servants passed offering various dishes, or in the absence of servants, helping themselves from dishes laid on a table set between the couches." Geikie's Life of Christ. (Comp. Luke 7:36-50.) (see ABRAHAM'S BOSOM; BANQUET; FEAST.)

Strong's Hebrew
3899. lechem -- bread, food
... Word Origin from lacham Definition bread, food NASB Word Usage bread (188), food
(87), fruit (1), loaves (3), meal (7), meal* (1), meals (2), prey (1 ...
/hebrew/3899.htm - 6k
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