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Feasting and FastingThe History and Ethics of Jewish Food$
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Aaron Gross, Jody Myers, and Jordan D. Rosenblum

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479899333

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479899333.001.0001

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Food in the Biblical Era

Food in the Biblical Era

(p.32) 1 Food in the Biblical Era
Feasting and Fasting

Elaine Adler Goodfriend

NYU Press

The principal foods of the ancient Israelites during the thousand years from 1200 BCE to the second century BCE were like those of other Mediterranean peoples. Grains, wine, and olive oil were the three primary staples (the Mediterranean triad), and these were augmented by dairy products, fruits and nuts, and meat. It was difficult to produce food in the rocky soil and dry climate of ancient Israel, and a central belief in the Hebrew Bible is that the supply of food is contingent upon Israel’s obedience to God’s laws. In the Hebrew Bible, food is a subject of divine law. Religious and cultural factors marked some foods and food mixtures as taboo and inappropriate for a “holy nation.” Specific permitted foods were imbued with symbolic importance. These symbolic foods and ancient practices provide the template for later Jewish ways of consuming food, using food in worship, and addressing ethical ideals.

Keywords:   Israelites, Mediterranean triad, grains, wine, olive oil, Bible, holy nation, ethical ideals, worship, taboo

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