Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Disturbing Bible Passages: Yummy Flatbread Edition

Ezekiel 4:9 is the name of an organic bread found in your grocer's freezer section. 

I have never been tempted to buy frozen bread  but I have no doubt it is tasty and nourishing. Looking at the "Food for Life" baking company website I note that the bread is Kosher.  Kashrut rules in the time of Ezekiel were different....

The King James Bible translates Ezekiel Chapter 4 verse 9 thusly:  "Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof."

Ezekiel 4:12 tends to raise some hackles. King James: And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight.  

 The King James translation is unclear, as is often the case. One might even take it to mean that feces is in the bread. This passage is a symbolic test of Ezekiel to prepare him for hard times to come and the fact that ritually pure food will not be available. The literal translation is that the bread (which contains food items not normally found in bread, like the legumes, due to the foreseen shortage of grain) be baked "on" (as Jewish translations of the Torah give us rather than the KJB's "with") human excrement, i.e. using it as fuel, which is ritually unclean especially for a priest like Ezekiel.
 
Here is a Jewish translation of Ezekiel 4:4-17      4 Moreover lie thou upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it; according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it, thou shalt bear their iniquity. 5 For I have appointed the years of their iniquity to be unto thee a number of days, even three hundred and ninety days; so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 6 And again, when thou hast accomplished these, thou shalt lie on thy right side, and shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah; forty days, each day for a year, have I appointed it unto thee. 7 And thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, with thine arm uncovered; and thou shalt prophesy against it. 8 And, behold, I lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast accomplished the days of thy siege. 9 Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof; according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, even three hundred and ninety days, shalt thou eat thereof. 10 And thy food which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day; from time to time shalt thou eat it. 11 Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of a hin; from time to time shalt thou drink. 12 And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it in their sight with dung that cometh out of man.'  13 And the LORD said: 'Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their bread unclean, among the nations whither I will drive them.' 14 Then said I: 'Ah Lord GOD! behold, my soul hath not been polluted; for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn of beasts; neither came there abhorred flesh into my mouth.' 15 Then He said unto me: 'See, I have given thee cow's dung for man's dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread thereon.'  16 Moreover He said unto me: 'Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem, and they shall eat bread by weight, and with anxiety; and they shall drink water by measure, and in appalment; 17 that they may want bread and water, and be appalled one with another, and pine away in their iniquity.

So the bread is impure and the fuel is impure. God is saying to E. "Get used to it. Heavy shit, so to speak, is coming down." Ezekiel protests to YHVH that he has never eaten anything impure and YHVH partially relents telling him that he may use cow dung instead of human dung for fuel. The non-grain items (barley,beans, lentils, etc.) were in Zeke's bread  to stay. Barley cakes in ancient times were unleavened, and may have been a more traditional passover food. 
It is amusing that a baking company targeting Christians is making a semblance of this bread as if it was a good thing. 
I wonder if Ezekiel thought God's flatbread recipe was a good thing.
I doubt it. Many of the ingredients were not considered proper for bread during those days.
Food For Life's Ezekiel 4:9 ingredients: Organic Sprouted Wheat, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Filtered Water, Fresh Yeast, Organic Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt. 
It's close to God's recipe given to Ezekiel. 
I doubt Ezekiel used soybeans or yeast.
I know he didn't add wheat gluten. 
Food For Life does not tell us if it is baked with a fuel of cow (or human) dung.

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