Some people are reluctant to give up wheat because it is talked about in the Bible. But the wheat of the Bible is not the same as the wheat of today. (See In search of wheat and Emmer, einkorn and agribusiness.) Comparing einkorn to modern wheat, for example, means a difference of chromosome number (14 chromosomes in einkorn vs. 42 chromosomes in modern strains of Triticum aestivum), thousands of genes, and differing gluten content and structure.
How about Ezekiel bread, the sprouted wheat bread that is purported to be based on a “recipe” articulated in the Bible?
Despite the claims of lower glycemic index, we’ve had bad experiences with this product, with triggering of high blood sugars, small LDL, and triglycerides not much different from conventional bread.
David Rostollan of Health for Life sent me this interesting perspective on Ezekiel bread from an article he wrote about wheat and the Bible. David argues that the entire concept of Ezekiel bread is based on a flawed interpretation.
“I Want to Eat the Food in the Bible.”
Are you sure about that?
Some people, still wanting to be faithful to the Bible, will discard the “no grain/wheat” message on the basis of biblical example. After all, God told Ezekiel to make bread, he gave the Israelites “bread from heaven,” and then Jesus (who is called the “Bread of Life”!) multiplied bread, and even instituted the New Covenant with what? Bread and wine! If you’re going to live the Bible, it seems that bread and/or wheat is going to play a part.
But this is unnecessary. Sure, the Bible can and does tell us how to live, but this doesn’t mean that everything in the Bible is meant to be copied verbatim. Applying the Bible to our lives requires wisdom, not a Xerox machine.
The Bible was written in a historical context, and the setting happened to be an agricultural one. Because of this, the language used to describe blessing spoke of things like fields full of grain, or barns overflowing with wheat. Had the Bible been written in the context of a hunter-gatherer culture, the language describing blessing probably would have been about the abundance of wild game, or baskets full of vegetables. Whatever is most valuable in your time and in your culture is a blessing. God accommodated His message to the culture as it existed at the time. This is done throughout Scripture.
There is a danger, then, in merely copying what the Bible says, instead of extracting the principles by which to live. Take the above example of Ezekiel, for instance. There’s a whole product line in health food stores called “Ezekiel Bread” that supposedly copies the recipe given in Ezekiel 4:9. This is from the website:
“Inspired by the Holy Scripture verse Ezekiel 4:9., ‘Take also unto thee Wheat, and Barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and Spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it…’”
Believing that this “recipe” has some kind of special power just because it’s in the Bible is ridiculous. How ridiculous is it? I’ll tell you in a moment, but first let me say that this is why it’s so important not to confuse descriptives with prescriptives. Is the Bible telling a story, or is it telling us to do something? We would be well-advised not to confuse the two.
In the case of the Ezekiel Bread, what is going on in the passage? There’s a siege going on, with impending famine, and Ezekiel is consigned to eating what was considered back then to be some of the worst possible food. It was basically animal chow. But that’s not the worst thing going on in this passage. Apparently, when the makers of Ezekiel Bread were gleaning their inspiration for the perfect recipe, they stopped short
of verse 12:
“And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight.”
Um…what? Well, there was a good reason for this. God was judging His people, and by polluting this really bad bread with dung (which was a violation of Mosaic law; Lev. 5:3), He was saying that they were no different from the unclean Gentiles.
So why would we take this story and extrapolate a bread recipe from it? Beats me. If you were going to be consistent, though, here’s what you’d have to end up with:
Let that be a lesson to you. We don’t just go and do everything that we see in the Bible.
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