A word which in Scripture is often put for food in general, Genesis 3:19 18:5 28:20 Exodus 2:20 Leviticus 11:3. Manna is called bread from heaven, Exodus 16:4. Bread, in the proper and literal sense, usually means cakes made of wheaten flour; barely being used chiefly by the poor and for feeding horses. The wheat was ground daily, in small stone mills; the flour was made into dough in a wooden trough, and subsequently leavened, Exodus 12:34 Hosea 7:4. It was then made into cakes, and baked.
The ancient Hebrews had several ways of baking bread: of baking bread: they often baked it under the ashes upon the earth, upon round copper or iron plates, or in pans or stoves made on purpose. The Arabians and other oriental nations, among whom wood is scarce, often bake their bread between two fires made of cow-dung, which burns slowly. The bread is good, if eaten the same day, but the crust is black and burnt, and retains a smell of the fuel used in baking it. This explains Ezekiel 4:9,15.
The Hebrews, in common with other eastern people, had a kind of oven, (tannoor,) which is like a large pitcher, open at top, in which they made a fire. When it was well heated, they mingled flour in water, and this paste they applied to the outside of the pitcher. Such bread is baked in an instant, and is taken off in thin, fine pieces, like our wafers, Leviticus 2:1-16. Bread was also baked in cavities sunk in the ground, or the floor of the tent, and well lined with compost or cement. A tire was built on the floor of this oven; and the sides being sufficiently heated, thin cakes were adroitly stuck upon towns there were public ovens, and bakers by trade, Jeremiah 37:21 Hosea 7:4.
As the Hebrews generally made their bread thin, and in the form of flat cakes, or wafers, they did not cut it with a knife, but broke it, Lamentations 4:4, which gave rise to that expression so usual in Scripture, of "breaking bread," to signify eating, sitting down to table, taking a repast. In the institution of the Lord’s supper, our Savior broke the bread which he had consecrated; whence "to break bread," and "breaking of bread," in the New Testament are used for celebrating the Lord’s supper. See under EATING.
SHOWBREAD, Heb. Bread of presence, was bread offered every Sabbath-day to God on the golden table which stood in the holy place, Exodus 25:30; twelve cakes of unleavened bread, offered with salt and frankincense, Leviticus 2:13 24:5-9. The show-bread could be lawfully eaten by none but the priests; nevertheless, David having received some of these loaves from the high-priest Abimelech, ate of them without scruple in his necessity, 1 Samuel 21:1-6; and our Savior quotes his example to justify the disciples, who had bruised ears of corn, and were eating them on the Sabbath-day. Matthew 12:1- 4.
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'BREAD'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".