Monday, May 31, 2010

The Bible and Food

Now I'm not the world's greatest cook but I was working on a handout I distribute to my students on the Passover and the Sedar meal for my course on the Pentateuch. I don’t get a lot of time to dwell on the Sedar meal and it’s significance but I fund students are very interested in it so I try and have something that they can work with outside of the class. Here’s a rough version of it-I change it every year depending on the focus of the group so it’s a bit general:

Passover is the 8-day celebration that commemorates the setting free and escape (exodus) of the people of Israel from Egypt. It is a period of family get-togethers and lavish meals that are called Seders. The story of the Passover is retold through the reading of the Haggadah. Passover begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan and just like Easter the date changes every year.

Passover in 2011 will start on Wednesday, the 19th of April and will continue for until Thursday, the 26th of April. (Note that in the Jewish calendar, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day). is a fantastic website that is packed with info and ltos of things for children. I have actually used this book in class too-some times you need to go back to basics-and it has lovely pictures!

According to the Book of Exodus - Moses, was ordered by God to go to the Pharaoh and insist on the independence of the Israelite slaves. Moses' appeal of let my people go was ignored. Moses warned the Pharaoh that God would send brutal punishments to Egyptians if the Israelites were not freed. Again the Pharaoh ignored Moses' request of freedom. In response God unleashed a series of ten terrible plagues on the people of Egypt
  1. Blood
  2. Frogs
  3. Lice (vermin)
  4. Wild Beasts (flies)
  5. Blight (Cattle Disease)
  6. Boils
  7. Hail
  8. Locusts
  9. Darkness
  10. Killing of the First Born

I usually add in those who think the plagues are scientifically provable and those who think it's all a natural occurrence:
The holiday's name - Pesach, meaning "passing over”, or "protection" in Hebrew, is derived from the instructions given to Moses by God. In order to persuade the Pharaoh to free the Israelites, God intended to kill the first-born of both man and beast. To protect themselves, the Israelites were told to mark their dwellings on the door lintel with lamb’s blood so that God could identify and "pass over" their homes.

When the Pharaoh finally agreed to freedom, the Israelites left their homes so quickly that there wasn't even time to bake their breads. So they packed the raw dough to take with them on their journey. As they fled through the desert they would quickly bake the dough in the hot sun into hard crackers called matzohs. Today to commemorate this event, Jews eat matzoh in place of bread during Passover

Passover celebrates this event. The first two nights of the 8-day holiday are celebrated with lavish meals called Seders in which the stories and history of Passover are celebrated. With its special foods, songs, and customs, the Seder is the focal point of the Passover celebration. Special foods, plates, silverware are all a part of the Seder.

Traditional Passover Foods & Their Symbolism

Unleavened Bread -- In their haste to leave Egypt and escape slavery, the Israelites had no time to let dough rise for bread. Their only provision was matzoh, which is made of wheat but not allowed to ferment or rise. Matzoh is a perfect example of how the food we eat is intricately woven into history, traditions, and culture. It is the bread of both slavery and of freedom.

Roasted Lamb Bone -- The roasted lamb bone symbolizes the lamb that was sacrificed at the Holy Temple of Jerusalem on the eve of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. The blood of that ancient sacrifice was used to mark the doors of the Israelites, so they might be "passed over.” Today, many families substitute a chicken or turkey neck for the lamb. Whichever meat you choose, roast it in the oven until done, and then scorch over a flame, like a gas burner or grill. Jewish vegetarians have been known to use a whole roasted beet instead of lamb.

Roasted Egg -- Eggs symbolize the perpetual cycle of life, from birth to death to re-birth. To roast eggs, first hard boil them, then, using tongs, hold over a gas burner or candle flame.

Bitter Herbs -- Fresh horseradish, without beets or vinegar, graces the Seder plate to symbolize the bitterness of slavery.

Greens -- Greens, usually fresh parsley or celery tops, represent re-birth and spring.

Salt Water -- The greens are traditionally dipped in salt water, which symbolizes the tears of the Hebrew slaves.

Charoset -- A traditional Passover dish, charoset consists of a mixture of chopped fruits, usually apples, nuts, raisins, spices, and wine. The mixture represents the mortar Hebrew slaves used to make bricks for the Pharaoh Ramses II.

Some websites that have recipes for Passover meals and foods

Buy your paper Sedar plates
Kosher Cooking
Jewish Recipes

This all got me to thinking about the Bible and Food (and lunch if I'm honest) and I found this amazing website Biblical Cooking.

Are you looking for bible inspired dishes for your restaurant or home kitchen? If so you came to the right place, welcome to the Biblical Cooking website. We invite you to browse through our user friendly website and find out how easy biblical cooking can be. 
I wasn't but I sure as hell am now....
 Try King David's Lamb Chops:

So there must be more right?
Oh yeah...

Nutritional Information from a Biblical Perspective

A Biblical Feast: Foods from the Holy Land.

Diet with God

The Hallelujah Diet

Food mentioned in the Bible


Food at the Time of the Bible. From Adam's Apple to the Last Supper. Which is surely the winner of Best Book Title EVER. I have to share the blurb:
Was the "forbidden fruit" of the garden of Eden really an apple? What is St. Peter's Fish? What was in the bowl that Jesus dipped into at the Last Supper? Within the pages of this book you will find a uniquely in-depth and easy-to-read survey of every aspect of food in the Bible, accompanied by fascinating illustrations and photographs. You will learn not only what people ate and drank in Bible days, but how they raised their food, stored it, traded in it, and prepared it. You will take a fresh look at food through the eyes of Scripture, seeing new and deeper symbolic meanings behind many a menu.
Best of all, you will find an exciting collection of biblically-inspired, easy-to-prepare recipes for a cornucopia of delicious dishes to share with friends and family.
As you enjoy learning about what our biblical ancestors ate, you will find yet another way of coming closer to Bible days and Bible ways. Through this book you will discover that Scripture, the most important inspiration in our spiritual lives, can be an inspiration in the kitchen as well!

I could go on but my tummy is rumbling :) I'll let you know when I try some recipes!

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