What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat?: Diet in Biblical Times

Overview

What food did the ancient Israelites really eat and how much of it did they consume? This seemingly simple question yields an incredibly complex answer. Nathan MacDonald sifts through five main types of evidence relevant to this diet examination: the biblical text, archaeological data, comparative evidence from the ancient world, comparative evidence from modern anthropological research, and modern scientific knowledge of geography and nutrition.

MacDonald opens by examining ...

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Overview

What food did the ancient Israelites really eat and how much of it did they consume? This seemingly simple question yields an incredibly complex answer. Nathan MacDonald sifts through five main types of evidence relevant to this diet examination: the biblical text, archaeological data, comparative evidence from the ancient world, comparative evidence from modern anthropological research, and modern scientific knowledge of geography and nutrition.

MacDonald opens by examining biblical descriptions of the land of Israel and the Israelite diet, considering the context of ancient rhetoric and theology. In section two he delves into archaeological finds from Iron Age Israel. The difficult problem of exploring the adequacy of the ancient Israelite diet is tackled in section three where MacDonald points out the impossibility of definitive conclusions on this question. The final section is an evaluation of the variety and healthiness of the diet. He also reflects here on claims made by popular contemporary “biblical diets” and analyzes a number of books calling for a return to “biblical eating.”

Diet in Ancient Israel will be useful for scholars and fascinating for general readers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802862983
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 11/28/2008
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nathan MacDonald is a lecturer in Old Testament at St. Mary's College, University of St. Andrews. His other work include Not Bread Alone and Deuteronomy and the Meaning of 'Monotheism.'

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Table of Contents

Maps

Archaeological Time Line

I Introduction 1

1 A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey 3

2 Reconstructing the Israelite Diet 10

II What Did the Israelites Eat? 17

3 The Mediterranean Triad Bread, Wine, and Oil 19

2 Vegetables, Pulses, and Fruit 25

5 Meat, Milk, Birds, and Fish 32

6 Condiments and Other Foods 39

III How Well Did the Israelites Eat? 41

7 Modeling the Israelite Diet 43

8 Environment and Climate 50

9 Food Shortage and Famine 57

10 The Consumption of Meat: Archaeological Evidence 61

11 The Consumption of Meat: Anthropological Evidence 73

12 Food Distribution 77

13 Nutritional Deficiencies 80

IV Conclusion 89

14 The Diet of the Ancient Israelites 91

15 Biblical Diets 94

Endnotes 102

Bibliography 133

Index of Modern Names 148

Index of Select Place Names, Authors, and Subjects 150

Index of Scripture References 154

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