If you’ve ever asked, “What kind of food did they eat in the Bible?”, you’re in the right place because in this article, I’ll be sharing insight from the Bible on what they ate.
Odds are, if you’re here, you’ve heard about the healing benefits of eating the foods in the Bible, or you’re simply curious about whether there’s some biblical foods maybe you should try.
People all over the world have said positive things about how the foods spoken of in the Bible offer positive health benefits. Interestingly, science backs up what the Bible says with their dietary recommendations in many instances.
I grew up in a Christian church: from birth. We studied the Bible weekly and tried our best to apply it to our lives. Funny enough, when we’d go to church events, the food prepared was often things like doughnuts, coffee, cake, and other sweets. Of course, we loved eating the things the church prepared, but it wasn’t the healthiest option.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I really asked, “What kind of food did they eat in the bible?”, and it was interesting to me to find the answer.
Many people within the church (including leaders) struggle with obesity and other diseases that could be less likely if we chose to eat more of what the Bible talks about, which is why I’m writing this article to encourage you to exchange some unhealthy foods with some of these foods mentioned in the Bible.
A Little Background on Food in the Bible
The Bible serves as a history book, a literature book, and a religious text, therefore, you can find interesting facts about the way people lived, what they did, and what they ate in those historic times!
The Bible takes place mostly in the middle eastern region, Europe, and in North Africa. The climate is warm and many of the foods eaten in the Bible grow well in the regions spoken of in the Bible. In fact, in places like Egypt, Israel, or even Turkey, you’ll find many ancient recipes that are likely to be very similar to what was eaten in the biblical times.
What kind of Food did they Eat in the Bible? 8 Foods Mentioned in the Bible
Now, let’s talk about the foods mentioned in the Bible…
1. Seasonings, Spices, and Herbs
The Bible demonstrates how spices can be used for food, scent, burial ceremonies, as gifts, and in commerce. People in the Bible would trade spices, sacrifice them as offerings, to anoint ded bodies for burial, and to create a romantic environment for intimacy between couples.
- Anise (Matthew 23:23 KJV)
- Coriander (Exodus 16:31; Numbers 11:7)
- Cinnamon (Exodus 30:23; Revelation 18:13)
- Mustard (Matthew 13:31)
- Rue (Luke 11:42)
- Salt (Ezra 6:9; Job 6:6)
- Cumin (Isaiah 28:25; Matthew 23:23)
- Dill (Matthew 23:23)
- Garlic (Numbers 11:5)
- Mint (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42)
2. Fruits and Nuts
The Bible uses fruits as symbols and historically to talk about what people ate. In instances like Matthew 7, where it says, “You will recognize them by their fruits”, it’s using fruit as a symbol of character and deeds. On other occasions, there are scriptures where the Bible talks historically about people eating fruits and nuts.
- Apples (Song of Solomon 2:5)
- Grapes (Leviticus 19:10; Deuteronomy 23:24)
- Melons (Numbers 11:5; Isaiah 1:8)
- Olives (Isaiah 17:6; Micah 6:15)
- Pistachio Nuts (Genesis 43:11)
- Pomegranates (Numbers 20:5; Deuteronomy 8:8)
- Raisins (Numbers 6:3; 2 Samuel 6:19)
- Sycamore Fruit (Psalm 78:47; Amos 7:14)
- Almonds (Genesis 43:11; Numbers 17:8)
- Dates (2 Samuel 6:19; 1 Chronicles 16:3)
- Figs (Nehemiah 13:15; Jeremiah 24:1-3)
3. Vegetables and Legumes
Despite the desert and droughts experienced in the Bible, it’s interesting to note that people were still able to eat and grow vegetables. The Bible talks about ways the food was preserved (such as drying) that made it possible for communities to withstand long-term famines.
- Beans (2 Samuel 17:28; Ezekiel 4:9)
- Onions (Numbers 11:5)
- Cucumbers (Numbers 11:5)
- Leeks (Numbers 11:5)
- Gourds (2 Kings 4:39)
- Lentils (Genesis 25:34; 2 Samuel 17:28; Ezekiel 4:9)
Grains and bread were very common staples in the Bible. In fact, bread is even used as a symbol of Jesus. It calls him the “bread of life”.
In addition to symbolic references, we see Bible references to partaking of bread and other grains. They ate bread in feasts, or as full meals at times.
- Barley (Deuteronomy 8:8; Ezekiel 4:9)
- Bread (Genesis 25:34; 2 Samuel 6:19; 16:1; Mark 8:14)
- Millet (Ezekiel 4:9)
- Corn (Matthew 12:1)
- Flour (2 Samuel 17:28; 1 Kings 17:12)
- Spelt (Ezekiel 4:9)
- Unleavened Bread (Genesis 19:3; Exodus 12:20)
- Wheat (Ezra 6:9; Deuteronomy 8:8)
The Bible talks about many bodies of water that were used for fishing. People like Simon and Andrew were fishermen, and their jobs were used to illustrate how strategic and tactful Christian people should be when doing evangelism.
Fish was used in Jesus’ miracles and other instances where it fed many people in the Bible.
Although the Bible does talk about foods that shouldn’t be eaten, some birds are listed within the foods that can eaten.
- Partridge (1 Samuel 26:20; Jeremiah 17:11)
- Quail (Psalm 105:40)
- Dove (Leviticus 12:8)
- Pigeon (Genesis 15:9; Leviticus 12:8)
7. Animal Meats
There are specific times where people didn’t eat meat. For example, in the Daniel fast or other times when people were making sacrifices to connect more with God. Most of the time, it seems that people in the Bible ate meat (even in slavery like what was experienced by the Jews in Egypt).
- Calf (Proverbs 15:17; Luke 15:23)
- Goat (Genesis 27:9)
- Lamb (2 Samuel 12:4)
- Venison (Genesis 27:7 KJV)
- Oxen (1 Kings 19:21)
- Sheep (Deuteronomy 14:4)
Dairy foods were eaten in biblical times, and as with other food types, it’s also used metaphorically. Job said, “Did you not pour me out like milk
and curdle me like cheese? (Job 10:10 NIV)
In most instances foods like “milk” and “honey” are referred to as symbols of blessing and abundance. Milk was often drunk as an alternative to water or fruit juice.
- Butter (Proverbs 30:33)
- Milk (Exodus 33:3; Job 10:10; Judges 5:25)
- Cheese (2 Samuel 17:29; Job 10:10)
- Curds (Isaiah 7:15)
Overall, the Bible laid a solid foundation for what we call the “food groups” today. It illustrates healthy foods we can eat, and even interesting ways we can preserve the food to avoid waste. Hopefully, this answered the question “What kind of food did they eat in the bible?”, and helped you to gain more insight about the biblical times. If you have more questions or comments, leave them in the comments section below.
If you’d like to learn more about living life by God’s design, get started with the By God’s Design Manifesto here.