Eastern Bread

An Orientalism:
A Custom or Mannerism in the Bible Times

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Bread -- a staple in the diet of man and used frequently in the bible in metaphors, analogies, and parables. To enliven a spiritual truth God uses common elements of everyday living to make the point. Bishop K. C. Pillai explains the greater understanding of several verses involving bread.

Luke 11
:9      And I [Jesus] say unto you,
        Ask, and it shall be given you;
        seek, and ye shall find;
        knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
:10    For every one that asketh receiveth;
        and he that seeketh findeth;
        and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
:11    If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father,
        will he give him a stone? . . .

The bread we think of in America is a loaf of bread with 16 slices, white, wheat or rye and used for sandwiches. How could that be mistaken for a stone? That does raise a question in my mind, I am sure there is more I could understand in this verse.

Bishop Pillai explains that the bread Jesus Christ is referring to is a small round loaf (or more appropriately, disc) made with wheat flour and water which is baked over hot coals or on hot rocks.  The wife would stack what she baked and use a stone the same size as the bread to lay on top to keep them in place. Over time the stone gets discolored by the bread and the use of it and it takes on the appearance of a loaf.

Now we can understand the stone Jesus is talking about; the stone that holds the bread in place looks like the bread but is not the real thing. God, being greater than our earthly fathers, would not, even by mistake, give us anything other than the holy spirit when we ask and seek Him.

Another reference to bread in Luke 11 is clarified now that we know what their bread is like:

Luke 11
:5 And he [Jesus] said unto them,
        Which of you shall have a friend,
        and shall go unto him at midnight,
        and say unto him,
            Friend, lend me three loaves;
:6         For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me,
            and I have nothing to set before him?
:7     And he from within shall answer and say,
            Trouble me not: the door is now shut,
            and my children are with me in bed;
            I cannot rise and give thee.
:8     I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him,
            because he is his friend,
        yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
:9     And I say unto you,
        Ask, and it shall be given you;
        seek, and ye shall find;
        knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Three of these loaves would be right for a hungry traveler; which removes that confusion. But, To understand the impact of this story we much know a bit of eastern culture at the time of Christ as well. When a guest showed up at your house you were obligated to offer him food. It was a disgrace if you could not, and that was a big deal. The man who had a friend show up late at night was in a tight spot, he had no food to offer his guest, and because it was late at night the markets were all closed. The man goes to his other friend and calls out asking for bread but the friend lets him know that this is a great inconvenience, he is disturbing his family, and he is not going to get up and fetch him some bread. Yet, because of the man's importunity (shamelessness) and his persistence the friend will get up and get him the bread he asked for. The friend would not get the bread for him because he was a friend but, because he shamelessly persisted. Then Jesus Christ said that we should ask and it shall be given unto us, seek and we shall find, knock and shall be opened unto us. Because everyone that asks receives and he that seeks will find and to him that knocks, it shall be opened. This example is given so we will come boldly before the throne and grace and keep asking, seeking and knocking until we receive. Persist, God is able and willing.

The first usage of bread in God's Word is in Genesis.

Genesis 3
:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground;
        for out of it wast thou taken:
        for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

God is explaining the consequences of Adam's disobedience. Since Adam and Eve listened to Satan instead of adhering to God's Word they belonged to Satan legally and he could do to them what he wanted. The life sustaining bread will now be obtained through hard work. When Adam and Eve was obedient to God they tended the garden, sounds peaceful does it not? After the transgression they would eat by the "sweat of their face". However, even after this, God promised He would take care of all those that would look unto Him.

Jeremiah 17
:7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD [Jehovah],
        and whose hope the LORD [Jehovah] is.
:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters,
        and that spreadeth out her roots by the river,
        and shall not see when heat cometh,
        but her leaf shall be green;
        and shall not be careful in the year of drought,
        neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Philippians 4
:19 But my God shall supply all your need
    according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

 We don't have to do it all ourselves, we can trust in God, keep His Word and expect His care.

Associated with bread is leavening. During the week of Passover (Exodus 12) Israel was to eat only unleavened bread. Leavening causes bread to rise and have a light texture when baked. Fresh ground wheat will need no leavening when baked, however, if it is ground one day and baked the next it would need leavening to be light. Therefore leavening is a foreign substance to bread and considered an impurity. When leavening is added to bread it is placed in the center and allowed to work, over time this small amount effects the entire loaf of bread.

Matthew 6
:6   Then Jesus said unto them,
        Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

:12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread,
    but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

The doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees is foreign to God's Word. What they were teaching kept men in bondage and did not deliver the truth of God's Word. Beware of the their doctrine, even though they appear to be beneficial even a small amount will effect your life, and it will not be good. That would be the same for us today, only those to be aware of are false prophets, those appearing to speak the truth of the Word but twist it for their own benefit or speak error. If it does not line up with the Truth of God's Word do not hold onto it.

I Corinthians 5
:6  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
:7  Purge out therefore the old leaven,
        that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.
        For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

Cleaning out the things, thoughts, and actions in our lives that is contrary to God's Word is what He is talking about. Christ has sanctified us, made us righteous, redeemed us, justified us, and given us the ministry of reconciliation, now it is up to us heed the Word of God and remove that which is contrary to it. Christ has made you a new lump now be a new lump!

Bishop K.C. Pillai made the following comparison in his teaching. As the housewife was to grind her wheat daily to make the bread without impurities we are to read God's Word daily. To read the Word one day and rely on it for several is inadequate. Yesterday's reading is stale, it must be renewed daily. It will be refreshing and a blessing to your soul continually.