In ancient the food of a people was more entirely the product of their own country than in our day. Palestine was favored with an abundance of animal food, grain, and vegetables. But throughout the East, vegetable food is more used than animal. Bread was the principal food. Grain of various kinds, beans, lentils, onions, grapes, together with olive oil, honey, and the milk of goats and cows were the ordinary fare. The wandering Arabs live much upon a coarse black bread. A very common dish in Syria is rice, with shreds of meat, vegetables, olive oil, etc., intermixed. A similar dish, made with beans, lentils, and various kinds of pulse, was in frequent use at an earlier age, Genesis 25:29-34 2 Kings 4:38-1.
Fish was a common article of food, when accessible, and was very much used in Egypt. This country was also famous for cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlics, Numbers 11:5. Such is the food of the Egyptians still. See EATING.
Animal food was always used on festive occasions; and the hospitable patriarchs lost little time in preparing for their guests a smoking dish from their flocks of sheep and goats, their herds of cattle, or their dove cotes, Genesis 18:7 Luke 15:23. The rich had animal food more frequently, and their cattle were stalled and fattened for the table, 1 Samuel 16:20 Isaiah 1:11 11:6 Malachi 4:2. Among the poor, locusts were a common means of sustenance, being dried in the sun, or roasted over the fire on iron plates.
Water was the earliest and common drink. Wine of an intoxicating quality was early known, Genesis 9:20 14:18 40:1. Date wine and similar beverages were common; and the common people used a kind of sour wine, called vinegar in Ruth 2:14 Matthew 27:48.